Concerns over 'unacceptable burden' for residents from new energy project

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

There are concerns over the impact a new energy project could have on Friston - Credit: SASES

A consultation has been launched into proposals to bring an energy project to Suffolk's coast that would connect it with Belgium. 

National Grid Ventures is looking to build the Nautilus Interconnector close to Leiston, saying that the project would be the first of its kind. 

This new subsea electricity cable, known as a multi-purpose interconnector (MPI), would enable the connection of offshore wind generation between the UK and Belgium, powering up to 1.4 million UK homes.

The cable could link up a number of energy projects and could potentially link clusters of wind farms into a single connection point.

NGV said that the routeing plan for the Nautilus cable had been based on the "reasonable assumption" of a connection at the proposed Friston substation but said it was yet to be confirmed whether the proposed substation "presents a feasible connection point for Nautilus".

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The 30-acre Friston substation has been applied for by Scottish Power and is currently being considered. 

It said that if the substation was not given the go-ahead then it would look at alternate connection points. 

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National Grid said that the MPI would "significantly reduce the amount of infrastructure and disruption required in both the marine and onshore environment" and would "reduce the impact on affected communities and the environment". 

The consultation will look at onshore siting and routeing with feedback being used to refine development on the project. 

The project will require a a Development Consent Order from the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy before it can be given the go ahead.  

Martin Moran, project manager for Nautilus, said: “Since 2019 we have been engaging with local councils, parish and town councils and community groups across East Suffolk to gain a better understanding of their interests and concerns. From this engagement it has been made clear that there is a need for greater coordination and cooperation between energy developers in the region, in particular relating to connections to the electricity transmission network.

Data about gulls' flight patterns was combined with information about the location of offshore wind

The interconnector could link up clusters of offshore wind farms - Credit: PA

"Developing Nautilus as a MPI rather than a traditional point-to-point interconnector is our first step in responding to this feedback. Going forward, we intend to explore opportunities for coordination as far as possible to best address the interests of the environment and local communities.

"This community consultation is the next step in the process, by consulting on the siting and routeing work we’ve done, feedback from local residents will feed this into our ongoing project development process.”

Michael Mahony, from Substation Action Save East Suffolk (SASES), said that more energy projects like this on the "fragile" coast would be an "unacceptable burden" for people living there.

"It should not be coming to this area of Suffolk at all," said Mr Mahoney. 

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng speaking at the the N

The project will require a a Development Consent Order from Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng - Credit: PA

He said that other areas of the coast like at Bradwell in Essex and through an existing route from Bawdsey to a substation in Bramford would be more appropriate for the project.  

Mr Mahony said that the project was a "further risk to our key tourism economy" and would impact the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty and tranquil rural areas because of the "industrial scale infrastructure" that the convertor would bring. 

Consultation events are being held both online and in person:

  • Tuesday, September 28 - 4pm to 8pm - Leiston Community Centre, King George’s Avenue, Leiston, Suffolk, IP16 4JX
  • Wednesday, September 29 - 10am to 2pm - Friston Village Hall, Church Road, Friston, Suffolk, IP17 1PU
  • Thursday, September 30 - 4pm to 8pm - Thorpeness Pavilion, Thorpe Road, Thorpeness, Suffolk, IP16 4FD
  • Friday, October 1 - 10am to 2pm – Saxmundham Market Hall, High St, Saxmundham IP17 1AF
  • Thursday, October 7 – 10am – 12pm  - Community Q&A webinar 1
  • Tuesday, October 12 – 6pm  – 8pm – Community Q&A webinar 2

This round of consultation continues until October 26. 

At least one further phase of community consultation is planned in 2022 when the company will be presenting its refined plans.

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