Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council have been calling for improved national coordination of the offshore windfarm projects off the county’s coast, and this approach has been recognised in an Ofgem report.
The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) document, published on 3 February 2020, suggests that money could be saved and the environment better protected, if there is more coordination around the infrastructure of these projects.
The councils continue to support the principle of offshore wind, as it will help reduce carbon emissions and provide significant economic benefits to the county and the UK. However, this should not be achieved at any cost to Suffolk, its residents and its natural environment.
Concerns about the apparent lack of coordination in the connection of energy projects have been repeatedly raised by the councils with Government ministers, National Grid and wind farm developers.
In the “Decarbonisation Action Plan”, which supports the target of reaching Net Zero by 2050, Ofgem says that:
“We do not consider that individual radial offshore transmission links for this amount of offshore generation are likely to be economical, sensible or acceptable for consumers and local communities.
We will explore whether a more coordinated offshore transmission system could reduce both financial and environmental costs.
With more offshore windfarm projects planned, many of which are further from shore than those developed already, there is potential for efficiencies from greater coordination of offshore transmission infrastructure.”
Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection at Suffolk County Council and Councillor Craig Rivett, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development at East Suffolk Council, said:
“We welcome the coordinated approach proposed in this report. We hope that it means the Government, National Grid and Ofgem form a clear leadership role and strategy on all the energy projects affecting our coast.
Considering each project in isolation, as is the case with current proposals which we have considerable concerns about, does not seem to make sense and increases the environmental impact and the impact on local communities.
We will continue to lobby Government, press National Grid and the regulator Ofgem. Just this week [5 February 2020], we met with ministers at Westminster to discuss this very issue.
We believe we can minimise the harm to local communities through better regulation, coordination and planning, as we aim to deliver net zero carbon emissions.”