Wind farm campaigners angry at 'unfair' inquiry extension
- Credit: JASON HAWKES
Campaigners have voiced objections to an extension to the inquiry into proposals for two new wind farms off the Suffolk coast - saying they have already emptied their bank accounts to fight the plans.
Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has agreed the examination of ScottishPower Renewables’ (SPR) application for the huge projects should be extended by three months.
The company's plans are for the East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2) offshore wind farms, which would cover more than 400 sq km of the North Sea, with 142 turbines, generating 1700 megawatts of power, enough electricity for nearly 1.5million households.
There have been protests across east Suffolk at the impact of building the infrastructure to bring the power ashore, including a massive 30-acre substation which would be built at Friston.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey says the proposals for the electricity substation and associated cable corridor from Thorpeness would, if approved, have a "devastating impact" on the area including elements of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Campaign groups joined forces to make an official objection to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) over the extension to the examination of the projects and their associated infrastructure on the grounds that it was procedurally unfair.
Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS) said that, like other local groups, it had limited human and financial resources.
The group said: "To meet the gruelling schedule of the hearings, which should have ended on April 6, members of community groups in effect emptied the bank accounts to pay for experts and legal counsel.
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"Campaigners will be severely hampered in their ability to participate further in this inquiry. Some groups and individuals may not be able to participate at all."
SEAS said PINS had now also started the six-month examination of Sizewell C's application for a Development Consent Order (DCO).
It added: "This now clashes with SPR's EA1N and EA2 extension and as many participants will also be involved in Sizewell C further increases the strain on resources, physically, mentally and financially.
"The effect of the extension is to place all those who oppose the application for consent in an intolerable position."
BEIS said: "The Secretary of State has now considered the request. He has decided to grant extensions of three months to the examination timetables for both (wind farm) projects."