More time agreed for feedback over Sizewell and Friston power site plans

ScottishPower is to extend consultation over its onshore grid connection site proposals Picture: CHR

ScottishPower is to extend consultation over its onshore grid connection site proposals Picture: CHRIS JAMES - Credit: Chris James

Consultation taking place over controversial proposals for a 30-acre windfarm electricity substation in east Suffolk is to be extended to give people more time to comment.

ScottishPower Renewables' East Anglia Offshore Windfarm Projects Picture: SPR

ScottishPower Renewables' East Anglia Offshore Windfarm Projects Picture: SPR - Credit: Archant

ScottishPower Renewables announced the decision to add a further two weeks just two days after a formal request by Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) and Suffolk County Council (SCC).

The consultation over plans to use either Grove Wood, north of Friston, or a newly announced alternative site Broom Covert at Sizewell, will now run until November 12.

In a letter Geoff Holdcroft, deputy leader of SCDC, and Richard Rout, SCC cabinet member for planning, said for residents of Leiston and Sizewell it was the first opportunity to comment on the possibility of siting onshore infrastructure in their town.

They said: “Understandably, there have been concerns raised at every public meeting so far and direct to the district and county councils with regards to the length of time proposed.

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“Mindful of your ongoing requirements and next stage of consultation in the New Year, we would respectfully request that you extend the current time period for consultation by two weeks to give a total of six weeks public consultation which would help our constituents (and ourselves) to respond in a more fulsome manner.”

David Walker, development director at ScottishPower Renewables (SPR), said the decision had been made after listening to feedback from local authorities and residents.

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He said: “As a responsible developer, we go above and beyond statutory requirements, carrying out effective stakeholder engagement to ensure we obtain and consider as much feedback as possible.

“During this phase of consultation, we have hosted four public meetings, posted consultation documents and feedback forms to 16,000 homes across the onshore search area and made documents available at a range of public buildings. We hope that through extending the consultation period as many people as possible will provide feedback on the proposals, which will be fully considered in the assessment process.”

The substation will provide the grid connection for SPR’s next two offshore windfarms, East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO.

People living in the Friston area – who have now formed an action group to fight the susbstation plans – say they did not know its designation as an “energy hub” would lead to such “disruption, damage and destruction”.

The original proposals, which could result in five miles of countryside being dug up for cables to reach the station in Friston, have faced strong opposition from the community.

The alternative on the Sizewell B estate is land which had been earmarked for the moving of protected wildlife in preparation for the development of Sizewell C. It sits within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty.

Mr Walker said the company was “committed to exploring all options fully”.

He added: “Our initial feedback from local authorities and from EDF Energy advised that the Sizewell Estate was not available for our project to utilise, due to its location within the AONB and future developments already planned to support Sizewell C.

“However, recent requests from local authorities have indicated that SPR should explore this land further, and we have continued our positive engagement with EDF Energy to see if the land could be made available.”

The two projects, East Anglia TWO and East Anglia ONE North with a capacity of 900MW and 800MW respectively, follow-on from the 714 MW East Anglia ONE project that is currently in construction and the 1,200 MW East Anglia THREE scheme, which received planning consent last year.

The consultation documents and the Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) for the projects can be viewed on at ScottishPower Renewables website.

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