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Calls for offshore alternative to National Grid pylon line through East Anglia grow

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Calls for an offshore alternative to a proposed pylon line through the region have grown louder this month, with petitioners stating the current approach was 'tantamount to throwing East Anglia under a bus'.

Councillors, MPs and campaigners alike have urged National Grid to present other options to its East Anglia Green scheme – a power line reinforcement from Dunston in Norfolk to Tilbury in Essex – following a critical response to its recent consultation.

Suffolk County Council unanimously approved a motion on Thursday to reiterate its opposition to the current proposal, and to write directly to National Grid to request that alternatives be outlined.

National Grid says the 180-kilometre reinforcement is necessary. Picture: istock/georgeclerk
National Grid says the 180-kilometre reinforcement is necessary. Picture: istock/georgeclerk

Its opposition echoes a letter co-signed by a dozen MPs last week, which asked the Government to intervene to get the consultation restarted, claiming that East Anglia was being treated differently to other parts of the country.

National Grid says the 180-kilometre reinforcement is necessary, because the existing infrastructure did not have the capacity to transmit the increased amount of energy being produced by offshore wind farms by 2030.

On Friday, National Grid published a holistic network design report, titled ‘Pathway to 2030’, outlining the design basis for its delivery model to support offshore wind deployment, thus moving closer to national targets for cutting carbon emissions.

However, the report drew sharp criticism from the Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons action group, which has garnered tens of thousands of signatures for its petition against the East Anglia Green proposal.

Campaign spokeswoman Rosie Pearson said: “This new report fails abysmally to address the concerns of over 21,000 people who have signed a petition calling to have this network offshore – it’s short-sighted and shameful.

“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 National Grid’s East Anglia Green pylon route have been ignored, and that is completely unacceptable.

“For far too long, wind farm operators and National Grid have been allowed to get away with their harmful piecemeal approach and, under this report, this will continue.

“Regardless of this temporary setback, we will continue to battle for a strategic offshore approach and actively oppose the damaging National Grid proposal.”

At the full Suffolk County Council meeting on Thursday afternoon, councillors similarly expressed their preference for an offshore alternative, stating that National Grid had failed to make the strategic case for an onshore link.

The motion agreed by councillors added that, if the East Anglia Green scheme did proceed, there needed to be substantial changes to the current plan to mitigate the impact on communities and the environment.

Philip Faircloth-Mutton, Conservative county councillor for Sudbury, said: “South Suffolk is feeling the toll of infrastructure project after infrastructure project.

“We support renewable energy and new jobs and the investment it brings, but when it comes to transmission, Suffolk must not be sold short. If we are to deliver over a third of the nation’s energy in East Anglia, we need to see some innovation around transmission.

“National Grid must fully justify what these proposals are, and must publish fully-detailed costings and proposals of what offshore alternatives would entail.

“If, despite our opposition, they press ahead, we need to see huge improvements, notably more undergrounding through our sensitive and protected landscapes.”