East Suffolk Council adopts 'neutral' stance to offshore windfarm plans

Plans for offshore windfarms off the Suffolk coast have not been thought through adequately, says Su

Offshore windfarms are proposed for the East Suffolk coast - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2006

A neutral position has now been adopted by a council over plans for two offshore windfarms on the Suffolk coast, after developers made efforts to address concerns.

But East Suffolk Council has vowed to continue pushing for the best proposal for the district, as some areas of concern remain.

The authority supports in principle of two offshore windfarms being proposed by Scottish Power Renewables - East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two.

However, it previously objected to the impacts the large substations would have inland around noise, disruption to the wildlife and countryside and increased traffic it could bring.

Friston could be host to a 30-acre substation as part of the infrastructure for offshore windfarms Picture: SASES

Friston could be host to a 30-acre substation as part of the infrastructure for offshore windfarms Picture: SASES - Credit: Archant

The plans are now in a six-month examination phase before going to the government for a final decision.

However, East Suffolk Council's cabinet on Tuesday night said it had recognised work with Scottish Power Renewables had achieved some movement on the proposals, which meant the authority could now take a neutral stance.

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Councillors said there were still areas of disagreement it would continue to push on, chiefly the noise and operation of the substations, potential change to the character of Friston and how much future disruption cumulative development of energy projects could have.

Conservative cabinet member for economic development, Craig Rivett, stressed that it was the government and not East Suffolk which will make the final decision, and added: "This paper seeks to move towards a neutral position - that of neither fully objecting nor fully supporting these.

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for economic development and tourism Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Conservative cabinet member for economic development at East Suffolk, Craig Rivett, said the authority would continue to lobby Scottish Power Renewables - Credit: Archant

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"This does not infer that for the remainder of the examination we will sit mute. We still have concerns, for example on noise and cumulative impacts, along with issues identified in our local impact report.

"We will continue to make the case that where we have serious concerns we will seek to have these addressed, seeking to have the best outcome we can for the district."

The council's report said that some of the improvements agreed included a reduction in height of the turbines from 300metres to 282m;  £465,000 to help fund mitigation measures on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; increased tree planting and the reduced width of cabling trenches.

The project will power 1.5million homes across 142 turbines covering 400sqm of sea if it is built.

Green councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte said: "I am pro-wind power generation, but I don't entirely accept though this talk of mitigation.

Rachel Smith-Lyte said East Suffolk Council's efforts would be a legacy for generations to come. Pic

East Suffolk Green councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte questioned the need for cabled trenches - Credit: Archant

"We are a stakeholder and we are an important stakeholder and we should be ambitious as such.

"I am somewhat reassured that we are being ambitious, however I am not convinced that it has to be done the way that it is being done via a huge football-pitch sized substation on the fringes of one of our villages in an AONB when we could be doing it by a ring main [which would not necessitate large cable trenches to be dug]."

Suffolk Energy Action Solutions urged the government to halt the project until the full impact could be assessed in a letter penned last month.

The examination runs until April after which a recommendation will be made to the government for its decision.

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