Conservationists at RSPB North Warren, near Aldeburgh, voice concern over Sea Link plans
A nature reserve could be at risk of significant disturbance if a proposed energy project goes ahead, conservationists have said.
RSPB North Warren, near Aldeburgh, may end up playing host to cables as a part of National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) Sea Link proposal.
NGET proposes drilling the cables through a working area across the centre of the wetland site which could cause large scale damage.
The site has been an established haven for wildlife since 1939, as well as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its conservation importance.
Adam Rowlands, RSPB area manager in Suffolk, said: “It’s dismaying to see one of our most valuable wildlife sites which is loved by visitors both from local towns and villages, and from further away, has seemingly been preferentially chosen for this infrastructure development.
“Construction activity could have major effects on North Warren’s wildlife populations; this is a slippery slope, as once you start damaging one protected site, where does it all end?
“We ask National Grid to fully explore all other options and demonstrate that they will do their utmost to avoid impacting one of the Suffolk Coast’s most important wildlife reserves.”
Mr Rowlands states the RSPB understands the need to solve the climate crisis, but mentions there is also an ecological crisis which needs addressing, and that the need to develop the country’s energy infrastructure should not come at the cost of the natural world.
Sea Link would provide an electricity link between Suffolk and Kent generated from various sources, including offshore windfarms.
This would be transported underground through RSPB North Warren, connect via the proposed Friston substation, a site of contention in the LionLink project, and have a landfall site somewhere between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness.
A spokesperson for National Grid said: “Our proposals for the Sea Link project , which will enable clean energy to power homes and businesses in Suffolk and across Great Britain, include the installation of cables beneath the nature reserve, using trenchless technology to avoid disruption to the ground surface.
“This approach significantly reduces interference with the environment, preserving local wildlife habitats.
"We welcome and encourage local communities and stakeholders to come forward and share their views through our statutory consultation process which runs until 18 December 2023, which we will consider as we develop our proposals further."