47 councils sign letter urging minister to visit over Suffolk energy bids

Scottish Power Renewables site

The Scottish Power Renewables site - Credit: Substation Action Save East Suffolk (SASES)

A letter signed by 47 Suffolk town and parish councils has urged business minister Kwasi Kwarteng to visit to county's coast - to discuss contentious proposals for major energy projects.

The 47 authorities have invited Mr Kwarteng to see the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, amid concerns over the impact of the proposed Sizewell C twin nuclear reactors and the two offshore windfarms planned by Scottish Renewables - complete with infrastructure and sub-station.

The letter, written by Snape Parish Council chairman Tim Beach, said: "Recent statements suggest you understand Suffolk’s substantial, and contentious, role in energy delivery.

Sizewell A and B plants at Leiston

Plans for a Sizewell C may join the existing A and B sites - Credit: Google Maps

"We would like to show you how we believe the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, our tranquil countryside and our local economy will be affected by these major power projects.

"We know that industry representatives have regular access to ministers and BEIS officials, so we believe that it is reasonable and appropriate as local communities to request the opportunity to share our views, and we look forward to welcoming you to Suffolk."

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The Substation Action Save East Suffolk (SASES) campaign group welcomed the letter, and said the projects "require huge onshore industrial development and damage to the AONB. All this at a time when prime minister Boris Johnson has called for more protection of the UK countryside.

"Why is it different for Suffolk? Our protected landscapes are under threat."

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A spokeswoman from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that the secretary of state had visited in September 2019 in his capacity as energy minister.

The spokeswoman added: “No nuclear or wind project can be undertaken without consultation with local communities and a consideration of the environmental impact.

“We have recently launched a review to ensure that as our offshore wind capacity grows, we continue to strike the appropriate balance between environment, social and economic costs.”

In a separate letter, seven town and parish councils have written to East Suffolk Council outlining their disappointment at the recent decision of cabinet to move its stance towards the offshore windfarm projects from objection to neutral.

The councils said: "The communities we represent are the ones most directly affected by SPR’s [Scottish Power Renewables'] proposals for its sub-stations, cable routes and landfall infrastructure.  

"We therefore feel it reasonable to have expected to be consulted about such a decision and the reasoning behind ESC’s change of position from ‘object’ to being ‘neutral’ overall, and specifically on the mitigation and compensation which you appear to have negotiated."

East Suffolk Council said that "an enhanced package of mitigation and compensation" had been proposed but added: "There are still areas of disagreement with regards to operational noise at the substations site and the cumulative impacts of future energy development which have not yet been satisfactorily addressed.

"We would also like to see further commitments in relation to the design of the substations and will continue to work with the applicants to reduce the impacts of the projects.

"However, we do of course continue to support the principle of offshore wind and we are pleased that SPR have responded to our request for additional compensation and mitigation in relation to the onshore cables."

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