New energy project could ruin precious coast and heaths, claim campaigners

Embargoed to 0001 Tuesday July 13 File photo dated 17/09/2019 of Burbo Bank wind farm off Merseyside

Nautilus could connect several wind farms and reduce the impact on the environment - but campaihners disagree with the National Grid's plans - Credit: PA

Campaigners claim a huge new energy project could cause "mass industrialisation" of Suffolk's precious coast and heaths habitat.

SEAS - Suffolk Energy Action Solutions - has condemned proposals for the National Grid's Nautilus project to enable the connection of offshore wind generation between the UK and Belgium, powering up to 1.4 million UK homes.

SEAS says the interconnector project will have a number of impacts on east Suffolk and create "mass industrialisation" of the coast and heaths.

It fears the prospect of too many cable landfalls on a fragile coastline, with multiple cable routes gouging through the area of outstanding natural beauty.

The Nautilus cable may possibly run to the proposed substation at Friston, and SEAS claims it would  lead to a decline in the tourism economy, intolerable noise and disruption for communities, and more traffic on the A12 and surrounding roads.

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SEAS said: "There is increasing alarm at how on earth the Government Department for Business, Energy Industry Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem can be allowing such plans to be even contemplated.

"It is obvious to anyone visiting this area that the adverse impacts will outweigh any benefits to this region.

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"There is quite simply a better, greener solution.

"We have proposed a 'split decision' to the BEIS Review – which grants consent for the offshore infrastructure to go ahead and for the onshore infrastructure to be delayed.

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

Data about gulls' flight patterns was combined with information about the location of offshore wind farms Pic: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire - Credit: PA

"This gives time to enable Ofgem to draw up a Pathfinder Project as an Early Opportunity to start to build the better considered integrated solutions which are now the norm in other North Sea countries where, it should be noted, the energy grid exists as a nationalised entity."

Consultation is under way on Nautilus, which could link up a number of energy projects and could potentially link clusters of wind farms into a single connection point.

National Grid has said Nautilus 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". 

Martin Moran, project manager for Nautilus, said: "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."

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.  

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