This is my open letter to East Anglia Green in response to their statutory consultation
I am the owner of Van Cols, a successful local business in Great Horkesley based at the Old School, School Lane Great Horkesley CO6 4BN. Our business employs 80 people and has been based at this location for 40 odd years. I am therefore concerned about the impact this planning proposal will have on my business, the economy, the employment of local people and the environment.
As a local businessman, I place considerable store on the built and natural environment in Great Horkesley. When my business grew, I built an extension to the old Victorian School that we are located within. It was a matter of pride that I worked with the local planning department to make sure that my extension was built in a manner that was sympathetic to the local rural setting and it was indeed published by Phaidon as an example of how to extend a listed building. It will be most upsetting for both myself and the local residents if my efforts are negated by unnecessary and ugly pylons marching across our countryside.
At the outset I would like to put on record that I have read the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley Partnership and Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership responses to your development, and I concur entirely with their representations. In the AONB submission my eye was drawn to the requirement placed on National Grid by the Electricity Act 1989, when formulating proposals for new lines and other works, to:
have regard to the desirability of preserving natural beauty, of conserving flora, fauna, and geological or physiographical features of special interest and of protecting sites, buildings and objects of architectural, historic or archaeological interest; and shall do what [it] reasonably can to mitigate any effect which the proposals would have on the natural beauty of the countryside or on any such flora, fauna, features, sites, buildings or objects
It is my view that you have entirely failed to fulfil this requirement and drawing on the views of the local councils and the MPs I set out below why I believe this to be the case. I am a supporter of sustainable energy so I welcome the introduction of offshore wind to East Anglia so we can make our contribution to the nation’s energy needs, but I do not believe this support should be treated as a blank cheque. In short if East Anglia is to do right by the nation it must also be the case that the nation should do right by East Anglia, and that means unnecessary damage to our wonderful natural environment should not occur.
I understand that Suffolk County Council has objected to these proposals as they stand and I formally ask that this representation is also noted as an objection to the proposals in their current form.
The East Anglia GREEN proposal would see many pylons installed across the county, affecting the countryside and its communities. Like Suffolk and Essex County Councils, I cannot support this proposal as it stands. As a lay person I cannot understand why an undersea network has not been fully investigated. Surely if Greater London is to be the recipient of much of the electricity generated, a marine route makes sense? Instead, your proposal will result in unnecessary economic and environmental damage which I will not support.
I am also aware of the representations that the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex MPs made to the Right Honourable Greg Hands MP on the 20th May, and I endorse the representations that they have made to the Minister and of course yourselves as the developer. Specifically, regarding the lack of discussion in your consultation, on East Anglia GREEN, of strategic alternatives to the proposed onshore transmission line. I enthusiastically support their proposal that there should be the development of coordinated offshore transmission, to minimise the impacts on our communities. I understand that the MPs have been lobbying for strategic electricity networks since 2011.
I agree with the MPs, that alternatives to the pylon proposal do not appear to have been fully explored, nor have the reasons that these alternatives have been discarded been clearly explained. As a result, the MPs concerns reflect the significant disquiet within my community, which can only be addressed if clarity around the possible alternatives is provided by National Grid.
I have made it clear above that I object to unnecessary pylons marching across our countryside and I will put this stance to the Examining Authority when the time comes. If you insist on the pursuit of the unnecessary pylons, I ask that you consider the following:
The maximum use of undergrounding of cables must occur. I welcome the use of undergrounding in the AONB but the visual impact on the AONB must be considered more broadly and be applied to those landscapes that are in the vicinity of the AONB. Dedham Vale is referred to as ‘Constable Country’ and I have no recollection of any pylons appearing in the background of any Constable paintings! You should consider undergrounding beyond the boundary of the AONB so you do not damage the setting of the AONB.
I understand that where the pylons disappear underground there is a necessity for substantial Cable Sealing Compounds which are even more ugly in their impact than the pylons themselves. If you are considering the extent of undergrounding, I want to be consulted on the location of the Cable Sealing Compounds. I am concerned about this given the AONB submission has correctly observed that the corridor appears to touch, or come very close, to the AONB in the Great Horkesley area. You should not only increase the use of undergrounding but also more carefully consider the location of the Cable Sealing Compounds. I would welcome a visit from you as developer if there is any proposal for a Cable Sealing Compound in the vicinity of my business and Great Horkesley in general.
If you persist with your proposal to have unnecessary pylons marching across our countryside, I insist that you do all that you can to minimise the visual damage that occurs to our rural landscape. If pylons do go ahead in the Great Horkesley area they must be as unobtrusive as conceivably possible. For example, I understand the ‘T pylons’ used at Hinkley point C were 35m high compared to 50m plus for the traditional lattice tower type. I want you to explore the visual impact on the Great Horkesley landscape, which you will become aware is very flat.
In summary I am not persuaded that the pylons are needed and, on this basis, I object to your development. I concur with the representations made by the local councils, the local MPs and the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you persist with these unnecessary proposals, I will put my objections to the Examining Authority. If in the meantime you persist with your pylons, I ask that you increase the extent of undergrounding, give careful consideration to the location of Cable Sealing Compounds and do all that you can to minimise the ugly visual impact of your pylons.
Janus van Helfteren
Great Horkesley, Essex