Suffolk local authorities have used the response to Scottish Power Renewables current consultation to call for energy firms to co-ordinate their work plans better – to reduce the disruption of their project on local communities.
In a joint response, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council have highlighted the power company’s plan to site a substation in Friston, despite fierce local opposition, as an example of the piecemeal approach to the planning of these projects – and how local needs are being ignored.
East Suffolk is becoming increasingly important nationally for providing electricity for the nation – with a series of major projects in the pipeline.
Estimates suggest that this area will be responsible for a quarter of the country’s electricity supply by the 2030s.
But the infrastructure projects to generate and produce this electricity obviously have a major effect on the environment and the local communities.
Now, in responding to the current consultation being run by Scottish Power Renewables, the local authorities have highlighted the cumulative effect of all these projects – and appealed for the power companies to work together to minimise the disruption.
The local authorities have also raised the issue directly in a very positive meeting with Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth and the local MP Therese Coffey.
“East Suffolk, with its unique environment and fragile area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), is shouldering a huge responsibility for meeting the country’s future energy needs,” said Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic Development.
“While some companies are engaging with the local authorities and our communities, others like Scottish Power Renewables are not listening, so these massive energy infrastructure projects are being carried out by different companies with little or no co-ordination or consideration for the cumulative effects on the communities that we represent,”
“We have been consistently calling for more thought to be put into where, when and how the projects are developed to develop energy hubs and minimise the aggravation to the local communities and to reduce the pressure and disruption to our infrastructure.”
In addition to the existing Sizewell B nuclear power stations and sub-stations for the Galloper and Greater Gabbard offshore wind farms, the area is now expecting the Sizewell C nuclear power station plus two sub-stations for Scottish Power Renewables East Anglia Offshore 2 and 1 (North) schemes; two inter-continental connector converter stations for National Grid Ventures and a single major National Grid Transmission substation connecting these to the pylon lines.
The issue has been particularly highlighted during this round of consultation by Scottish Power Renewables, which is ignoring calls by the local authorities to review its decision to place its substation in Friston – meaning 5 miles of countryside will needlessly have to be dug up for cables to reach the substation and there may be multiple huge buildings.
“In the previous round of consultation we argued strongly that there were likely to be major environmental impacts caused by SPR’s suggested sites between Leiston and Friston and that other options should be tested carefully but, despite this, our advice has been ignored and Scottish Power Renewables has continued to focus solely on the Friston area in this consultation,” said Cllr Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection.
“While our councils support the need for these energy projects, to safeguard our country’s future electricity supply, and support the move towards sustainable renewable energy generation, it should not be done while ignoring the genuine needs and concerns of the local communities – or at the cost of our environment.”
Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal have worked together to prepare this joint response to the Scottish Power Renewables consultation.
These developments are seen very much as game changers, as part of a wider package of economic development investments in the area that the Councils want to embrace and support whilst acknowledging that to do this comprehensively, for the future benefit of the area needs the support of Government to help get it right.
The Councils state they support and embrace the principle of low carbon energy generation and the trading of energy across a European wide transmission network and want to help them be delivered if the local dividend is for the benefit of the whole area.
Therefore the Councils are committed to working together to ensure that where such schemes are brought forward they will have a positive impact on Suffolk, and East Suffolk in particular; supporting significant local growth by delivering: