Environmental campaign group Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons are continuing their fight against National Grid’s ‘East Anglia GREEN’ plan.
National Grid (NG) propose to install a 180 km overhead line carried on 50-metre high pylons across East Anglia from Norwich to Tilbury. The new infrastructure is to transport electricity generated by North Sea wind farms to a substation near the Thames Estuary. Campaigners say this would harm the local countryside and wildlife, and are pressing NG to lay the cabling offshore instead. They feel it is unjust for their environment to be permanently blighted for the transport of electricity to be used largely in London.
Clearly, there is an urgent need to generate more renewable energy in the UK. To support this aim, NG has just published a report Grid Pathway to 2030 – A holistic network design to support offshore wind deployment for net zero. It describes NG’s plans for subsea cables in some UK regions, but not in the East Anglia project.
Rosie Pearson, campaign leader, feels the report “fails abysmally to address the concerns of over 21,000 who signed a petition calling to have this network offshore”.
She adds, “East Anglia is being thrown under a bus while significant additional offshore networking over much longer distances has been recommended for Scotland and North England. Communities, countryside and habitats along NG’s ‘East Anglia GREEN’ pylon route have been ignored – and that is completely unacceptable.”
Councils step up the fight
Many local councils oppose the plans. This week, Tendring District Council in Essex voted unanimously against the overland pylons project. It passed a motion stating there had not been enough consideration of alternative routes ‘which would allow for the required infrastructure but without the sheer scale of the damage to the environment, landscape and the difficulties of this project…’
Now it appears that Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex County Councils could jointly oppose the plan. Suffolk County Council, for one, assert that their ‘clear preference is for a coordinated, offshore-centred approach… to minimise onshore infrastructure in Suffolk.’ Councillors believe that scant consideration has been given to a subsea route.
Anger among local MPs
The Off-Shore Electricity Grid Task Force (OffSET), a group of MPs in constituencies along the proposed route, are objecting to the plans.
NG’s public consultation closed in June, but OffSET says it should be re-opened, to consider routes other than overland. They have written to Greg Hands, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth & Climate Change, claiming the East Anglia GREEN plan appeared a ‘fait accompli’ and that having varied approaches in different parts of the UK was unfair. James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, tweeted that ‘Protection of rural communities must be given the same weight in East Anglia as in other parts of the UK.’
On 19 July there will be a debate in Parliament on the NG pylons route, instigated by OffSET chair, Harwich & North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin.
The pylon route will clearly be hotly-debated: there appears very little support anywhere for the overland proposals.