Suffolk’s coastline, a haven of windswept beaches and ancient heathlands, faces an unprecedented threat. National Grid (NG), the UK’s energy behemoth, has proposed a series of mega-projects that promise green energy but at the risk of irrevocably scarring the landscape and decimating local communities and their economies.
Their plans include the needless damage to precious countryside, including the gouging of motorway-width cable trenches, pylons marching through the countryside and the construction of 26m high converter stations each taking up 12 football pitches.
In response, the Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS) campaign group is launching a powerful counteroffensive: a national petition backed by a moving film co-written by renowned actor Ralph Fiennes – who was born in Ipswich – and director Charles Sturridge.
Titled “COAST,” the film poignantly captures the essence of what’s at stake. Fiennes’ narration weaves a tale of natural beauty facing the cold steel of pylons and trenches, echoing the concerns of residents. This emotional plea is backed by hard evidence. SEAS has meticulously documented the potential devastation, from ecological damage to a 15% predicted decline in tourism – a vital lifeline for coastal communities.
The four-minute film aims to create awareness and ignite engagement across the country. In Fiennes’ words, “The environmental legacy of any government is at stake here.”
NG’s plans will have ‘devastating impact’
The campaign group is in favour of offshore wind energy but against the current proposals for the delivery of that wind power to the grid, most of which is needed outside the region. They say it will have a devastating impact on a unique onshore environment, social health and wellbeing, the local tourist economy and coastal communities. SEAS believe these destructive solutions are unnecessary.
As Fiennes says:
“Yes, yes, yes to green power, a million times over, but it needs to be implemented with an environmentally enlightened vision…it can be done”.
SEAS suggests an alternative, sustainable solution that would be cheaper and less destructive to the environment: an Offshore Transmission Network. They point to Belgium’s ELIA, equivalent to the National Grid, which has affirmed the significant cost efficiencies gained by pooling wind energy at sea.
So SEAS proposes this alternative option with offshore cabling directed to pre-industrialised brownfield sites closer to demand, such as Tilbury, Grain and Bradwell on Sea. This would minimise environmental impact and safeguard local economies.
But their pleas to National Grid have so far fallen on deaf ears. The company is still beholden to shareholder interests in its bid to complete “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.”
NG not properly regulated
SEAS believes National Grid has not been properly regulated and guided to ensure that their plans are in the best interests of British communities. They point to how water companies and the Post Office have let down consumers and communities time and time again. As Fiona Gilmore, SEAS founder, states, “It’s time for the government to show strong leadership and halt these destructive plans.”
The national petition aims to ignite a public outcry, demanding a re-think of National Grid’s approach. This is not just a fight for Suffolk; it’s a nationwide call for responsible energy development that prioritises both environmental protection and community well-being. From Scotland to Cornwall, communities are facing similar threats, and SEAS stands in solidarity with them.
The battle for Suffolk’s coast is a stark reminder of the delicate balance between progress and preservation. “COAST” serves as a powerful wake-up call, urging viewers to demand smarter, more sustainable solutions, protecting the treasures of the Suffolk coast.
“There are better, cheaper, faster solutions, and Britain is lagging behind,” says Gilmore Belgium, Holland and Germany are all implementing these offshore solutions successfully. It’s time that Britain did, too.
You can sign the petition and make your voice heard here. Watch Ralph Fiennes: