Campaigners call for 'split decision' over Suffolk windfarm projects
- Credit: Jason Hawkes
Campaigners are urging government to make a "split decision" on proposals to build two huge new windfarms off the Suffolk coast.
They say ministers could give the go-ahead for work to start offshore on the 142 turbines - but reject plans for the onshore infrastructure until a better solution can be found.
There is strong opposition to the cabling for six offshore energy projects coming ashore at different places on the coast and taking separate routes to the electricity network, leading to many miles of countryside being dug up and a number of power hubs being built.
One such hub is proposed at Friston, where a massive 30-acre substation is proposed for ScottishPower Renewables’ (SPR) East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2) wind farms, which would generate 1700 megawatts of power, enough electricity for nearly 1.5million households.
SEAS (Suffolk Energy Action Solutions) says it would be better if the cabling connections were co-ordinated with just one hub serving a number of different projects.
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Bramford, Bradwell and Grain have been suggested as possible sites for a hub.
SEAS said: "We propose a positive way forward, a ‘split decision’ so that the offshore turbines are recommended for consent. This will mean that no time is wasted in respect of construction of the turbines.
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"Secondly, the onshore infrastructure is rejected in favour of full consideration of better locations for this infrastructure where the adverse impacts are minimised at a brownfield or industrialised site.
"In this way the offshore turbines can be consented and constructed as planned and cause no delay to the government's role out of its 2030 offshore wind target."
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey is also in favour of a brownfield hub. She said: “The long-term capacity of Bradwell as an integrated Wind Energy Hub has significantly greater potential than the Friston site.
"It is closer to London and on the coast thus negating the need for cable corridors to be dug and re-dug with every future wind farm project attempting to connect to the Grid. It is a brownfield site and in need of development."
The Planning Inspectorate is now compiling its report following its examination. It will report to government by October 6 and a decision will be announced within three months.
In its energy White Paper published last December, government said of single point-to-point connections for each power project: "We recognise the impact this is having on the coastal communities which host this infrastructure and will act quickly to take the necessary steps to address the situation, particularly given our ambition to have 40GW offshore wind by 2030."