MPs back rethink over how to deal with region’s energy industry impact

Onshore infrastructure for offshore wind farms is causing big concerns across east Suffolk Picture:

Onshore infrastructure for offshore wind farms is causing big concerns across east Suffolk Picture: JASON HAWKES - Credit: Archant

MPs and campaigners are holding top-level meetings to call for a rethink over proposals for the huge onshore infrastructure needed to service new power projects planned for the region.

Norfolk and Suffolk is on the frontline of the offshore wind revolution - set to become possibly the world's largest hub of offshore wind production.

There has been a big outcry in East Suffolk where half a dozen major energy schemes are planned - and which will include digging up miles of countryside and building a massive substation at Friston.

But across East Anglia there are many more projects planned.

A dozen windfarms are in the pipeline - with even more likely to follow - for the region's coastline, and there is growing concern over the major infrastructure challenges associated with connecting the high voltage electricity produced offshore to the National Grid onland.

At Necton in Norfolk two substations each the size of Wembley stadium are being planned.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, alongside Jerome Mayhew Broadland MP and Duncan Baker North Norfolk MP, yesterday organised a meeting of Suffolk and Norfolk MPs and representatives from a number of local campaign groups from across the region, to discuss the campaign for a rethink on infrastructure to date, re-emphasise the need for a review and agree a plan for taking the campaign forward.

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Mr Freeeman stressed that the campaign was not against green energy but believed there should be a proper plan for the delivery of offshore wind infrastructure.

The main solution put forward would be the possibility of an Offshore Ring Main. Requiring just two connection points onshore, such a Ring Main could prevent the destruction of countless habitats, avoid serious disruption and impact upon farmers, residents and the tourism industry and provide a further "levelling-up" boost to the East Anglian economy.

Mr Freeman said: "While we are 100% committed to, and supportive of, offshore wind production, we need a proper strategic plan in place to deliver it. That's why we are calling for a full review of the options available, including an Offshore Ring Main, to take place."

Graeme Murray, chairman of the Anglian Energy Planning Alliance, welcomed the MPs' involvement in the campaign. He said: "We are now talking about possibly up to a dozen energy projects, which is farcical. What we want to see if everyone co-operating on this and not sticking their head in the sand like the powers that be when a great swathe of our countryside could be swallowed up."

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