MP Coffey speaks of 'devastating impact' of windfarm on Suffolk beauty spots
- Credit: JASON HAWKES
A Suffolk MP says a single 'connection point' for new power projects off the county's coast would avoid "spaghetti-like cabling" wrecking some of its most beautiful areas.
Therese Coffey says proposals for a huge 30-acre electricity substation at Friston and the associated cabling corridor from Thorpeness for two new windfarms, if approved, would have a "devastating impact" on the area including elements of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Campaigners says 9km trenches at 60 metres wide would be gouged through the Suffolk Coastal Path, the Suffolk Sandlings, the AONB, and lead to the destruction of mature woodland and swathes of Grade 2 and 3 agricultural land.
Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Coffey says Suffolk is facing a number of energy projects and an integrated approach is needed, especially in ensuring shared landing points for the cables are used by companies to bring the power ashore.
Dr Coffey addressed the Planning Inspectorate's examination into ScottishPower Renewables’ (SPR) application for a Development Consent Order for its plans for the East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2) offshore wind farm.
The two projects would cover more than 400 sq km of the North Sea, with a 142 turbines, generating 1700 megawatts of power, enough electricity for nearly 1.5million households.
Dr Coffey supports the offshore element of the project but is deeply concerned at the plans for the onshore infrastructure.
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She told the examination hearing of growing moves in government towards an integrated approach and suggested that as the windfarm would take years to construct, the offshore elements could receive consent and allow time for SPR to work with companies planning other major projects to co-ordinate their ventures.
Dr Coffey said: "The issue though, throughout all of this, has always been with the proposed onshore infrastructure – and the more energy projects proposed for the east coast – the more important it is that there’s an integrated approach.
"People in this area are already familiar of the concept of using HVDC cables for multiple wind farms and having just one route and connection point direct to Bramford as that is precisely is what is supposed to have happened on these wind farms.
"The examining authority may wish to note that SPR had previously received consent for such a proposal, initially landing through Bawdsey, but SPR later changed their connections to AC and has effectively led to the proposals for onshore infrastructure being considered today.
"I really think SPR need to look again at how they bring their energy from EA1 & 2 onshore. I have been consistent in suggesting the brownfield site at Bradwell in Essex is a much better option for the onshore infrastructure desired– which has a greater potential capacity than the substations proposed for Friston."
Approving the offshore works would not unduly delay the project but give "a clear signal that instead of the current spaghetti-like cabling that we could end up within East Suffolk" a coordinated proposal should be put forward that complies with emerging government policy.
ScottishPower Renewables says it has worked to minimise the impact of its onshore infrastructure on communities.
The company said mitigation measures for the substation, proposed for Friston, include significant reductions to the size of the buildings as well as natural screening to minimise visibility.
Its DCO application had been submitted and accepted following “extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders”.