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Richard Rout, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, frustrated over major energy projects being sneaked ‘through the back door’





A county councillor is criticising a lack of transparency over major energy projects, saying councils are not consulted before programmes are approved.

Richard Rout, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, has made the rebuttal after the latest publication of National Grid’s Transmission Entry Capacity (TEC) Register, with projects near Ipswich and Eye being given the go ahead.

The TEC Register is a list of projects that have secured the rights to connect to the National Grid’s network under the Planning Act of 2008 by government, not local councils.

Cllr Richard Rout is frustrated that major energy projects can seemingly go ahead without consulting local councils, whose communities will feel the brunt of the impact of the project. Picture: iStock
Cllr Richard Rout is frustrated that major energy projects can seemingly go ahead without consulting local councils, whose communities will feel the brunt of the impact of the project. Picture: iStock

This is in spite of the impacts of the project being strongest locally and not nationally, with Cllr Rout saying the environmental impact is not being considered.

He said: “It is both shocking and disappointing to me that councils and communities in Suffolk are finding out about these very large proposals for the first time in this way.

"Suffolk County Council has not been approached by any of the businesses that have had a connection offer from National Grid, and neither have the communities, who will be expected to host these huge schemes.

Richard Rout, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Richard Rout, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council

“In my view, this treats the opinions of local people, and their council representatives, with contempt and is a terrible way to begin projects of this nature.

"Any of these projects, if they do come forward and are submitted to the planning inspectorate for planning permission, have serious implications for local people, our county's infrastructure, our agricultural capacity and heritage, not to mention our precious natural environment and wildlife habitats."

The new projects which have been offered connections at National Grid sites at Bramford, near Ipswich, and Yaxley, near Eye, would be large scale solar panel and battery storage proposals.

Suffolk County Council is recognised by the government as a centre of excellence when it comes to managing iimpacts of big energy schemes, and has previously outlined their opposition over the way large energy developers treat communities.

Cllr Rout wrote to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove in July of this year to state the shortfalls of the West Suffolk SUNNICA application, described as ‘the worst example of what can go wrong’ when developers mistreat communities.

He continued: "Suffolk County Council readily understands and accepts the extent and magnitude of the infrastructure required to deliver national energy independence.

“However, food security is equally important, and we have grave concerns about taking vast swathes of high-quality agricultural land out of food production for solar farms.

“It is absolutely critical that projects, like those emerging for the first time today, are handled in the right way and treat local people with the respect they deserve.”

Cllr Rout says he will continue to call out attempts to ‘sneak projects through the back door.’

The programmes at Bramford and Yaxley can now be brought forward by developers and, if they meet the criteria needed, will be considered by the planning inspectorate for approval