Suffolk: More pylons would “spoil tourism”, says group

A group of county councillors have thrown their weight behind a campaign to halt the planned extension of Suffolk’s electricity pylon network.

The group spoke out against National Grid proposals to connect offshore wind turbines in Lowestoft to the county’s existing network via a new corridor of lines stretching the length of the Waveney Valley and the Broads.

The new pylons would be used to carry extra energy generated by the wind farm and eventually Sizewell C but the councillors insist the power should be routed using high voltage cables under the sea.

Guy McGregor, Judy Terry, Kathy Gosling, John Field and Tony Goldson urged National Grid to avoid constructing more overhead lines by considering alternative technologies.

Mr McGregor, the council’s head of Roads Transport and Planning, said: “As a plc, National Grid is interested in squeezing assets and keeping its shareholders happy.

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“The network is based on old technology taking juice through Suffolk to London and the South East. We want a sea change but National Grid risks losing all its investment in these pylons. Wind farms just want certainty - they’re not in the business of distribution.”

Last month, Suffolk County Council presented recommendations to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, following the National Symposium on Future Electricity Networks, which suggested better planning could reduce the need for onshore network extension.

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Public consultation has meanwhile finished on a new overhead line between Bramford and Twinstead which, if given the go-ahead, would be built by 2016.

The councillors all support the generation of renewable energy but each oppose the transfer of power via pylons. Mrs Terry, Suffolk’s Greenest County chief, said: “If we can carry gas from Europe it can’t be that difficult to send electricity underground. National Grid doesn’t seem to have an overall strategy.

“This is not a political issue. This is in the best interest of the county. More power lines would completely spoil tourism in Suffolk.”

Pakefield councillor Mrs Gosling said she was “horrified” by the plans, adding: “We’re taking action. As soon as people realise what is happening they should register their disappointment.

“It’s not that we don’t support wind farms - we don’t support the way National Grid goes about things, just because it’s the way things have always been done.”

Peter Eaton, who represents the ‘Bury not Blight’ group is today due to ask Suffolk County Council what measures it will take to stop the construction of a new line of pylons. Mr Eaton said: “The effect on the landscape of massive new pylons right across the Waveney Valley and the Broads would be hugely detrimental.”

A National Grid spokesman said: “The East Anglian offshore wind project is in its early stages. No final decisions have been made on how to connect onto the national grid. However, initial studies, required as part of the offshore assessment process and under which our obligations are to ensure the most co-ordinated, economic and efficient overall solution, with due regard to amenity, is taken forward by the offshore owner or developer, suggest that Bramford would be the optimal potential connection point for this offshore project.”

A spokesperson for ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall, the developers of East Anglia Offshore Windfarm, said: “We will be conducting an extensive evaluation and assessment of all the potential grid connection methods and will bring into account appropriate engineering, environmental and economic constraints.

“At this early stage we anticipate undergrounding the connection for East Anglia ONE will be the most appropriate solution.”

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