Many new connections and significant generation infrastructure are required to deliver net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050. The resources and conditions in East Suffolk and East Anglia for fixed foundation offshore wind and interconnectors make this area favourable to developers. East Suffolk Council is concerned about the significant number of projects which might seek to be accommodated within the district as a result. Through engagement with developers individually and collectively, the council has and continues to seek to minimise the harm and adverse impacts on the environment and communities from projects, whilst ensuring that any benefits are maximised. Simultaneously, East Suffolk Council is also engaging on a more strategic level.
A joint letter, signed by the Leaders of the District and County Councils was sent to the, then Secretaries of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Housing, Communities and Local Government, having regard to all energy projects in the East Suffolk locality. The letter highlights the concerns the councils have, due to the lack of coordination and potential adverse cumulative impacts which could result from accommodating numerous infrastructure projects in the same locality. The subsequent correspondence is detailed below.
In October 2019 Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Work and Pensions and MP for Suffolk Coastal constituency, organised a meeting with Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP Minister of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy which was attended by representatives from East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council to discuss the cumulative impacts of the energy projects on East Suffolk.
In addition the following letters have also been written to Ministers in relation to the current and future energy projects being faced by Suffolk and Norfolk.
In February 2020 Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP organised a further meeting with Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP which was also attended by representatives from East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council to continue discussions regarding the issues faced by the cumulative impacts of the energy projects.
The Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy organised a ‘Teach In’ which was attended by various stakeholders involved in the delivery of energy projects including National Grid both as Systems Operator and Transmission Owner, Ofgem, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Planning Inspectorate, Environment Agency, Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council. During this meeting all the stakeholders recognised and acknowledged that the current system and processes for delivering new energy is not fit for purpose, an issue which will only be exacerbated in the coming years as we strive to deliver the necessary capacity to meet our net zero targets. Following this meeting East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council wrote jointly to the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy setting out the key next steps required.
East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council also wrote in support of local MPs on 4 December 2020 following an adjournment debate on offshore wind transmission connections on 5 November 2020.
East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council submitted written evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee.
The Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng announced on 15 July 2020 the Offshore Transmission Network Review and published the Terms of Reference for this work.
This review is welcomed, comprising an acknowledgement that the current approach to designing and building offshore transmission is inappropriate considering the target of achieving net zero. Our continued engagement with Government and the Minister has helped to bring about this review, there is now greater recognition and understanding regarding the detrimental impacts faced by local communities and the environment as a result of the current regime. East Suffolk Council has and continues to engage with the Offshore Transmission Network Review.
East Suffolk Council has also provided the following responses to different strategic and national policy consultations: