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Suffolk residents and Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council rail against plans for Nautilus onshore energy project in East Suffolk



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Residents and a town council have railed against plans for an onshore energy project which they say will destroy wildlife and ruin areas of natural beauty.

The Nautilus Multi-Purpose Interconnector project, being developed by National Grid Ventures (NGV), would see high voltage cables connect electricity-producing offshore wind farms to an onshore converter station in East Suffolk.

It comes alongside plans from Scottish Power Renewables to build substations in the area as well.

Fiona Gilmore, founder of Suffolk Energy Action Solutions. Picture: Simon Barber.
Fiona Gilmore, founder of Suffolk Energy Action Solutions. Picture: Simon Barber.

But despite NGV running a consultation period last year, Suffolk residents and Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council have raised concerns the proposed converter station would create a blot on the landscape, destroy wildlife, create congestion and impact on communities.

In response to the criticisms, the National Grid said they would prioritise air quality, biodiversity, water and waste as part of the project.

Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council raised concerns the surrounding rural area did not have the 'necessary infrastructure' for the electrical substation in their response to the NGV's consultation last October.

Suffolk Energy Action Solutions has raised concerns the planned onshire energy project would destroy wildlife in East Suffolk. Picture: Fiona Gilmore.
Suffolk Energy Action Solutions has raised concerns the planned onshire energy project would destroy wildlife in East Suffolk. Picture: Fiona Gilmore.

It also raised concerns the substation would increase traffic and congestion in the area and blot the landscape - part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The 170 square mile area is host to wildlife-rich estuaries, ancient heaths and unspoilt beaches.

Fiona Gilmore, founder of Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS), a community group set up to campaign against the Nautilus project, said the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area was 'under threat', with some species 'directly threatened' by the plans.

"The adverse impact to our biodiversity is significant," she said.

"There will be over ten years of construction to put together this vast industrial hub covering over 120 acres in the heart of Friston.

"Rare habitat corridors will be permanently severed. Those creatures great and small will not return."

A spokesperson for the National Grid said only one site would be chosen out of a possible five mooted during their consultation period.

"It’s vital for us to engage with the community to hear their concerns, as well as speaking to a broad range of local organisations and environmental experts," they said.

"In addition, the project must comply with existing legislation (Infrastructure Planning EIA Regulations 2017) to ensure an appropriate and proportionate environmental assessment is done.

"This would include studying traffic and travel disruption.

"The recently adopted Environment Act sets clear statutory targets for the recovery of the natural world in four priority areas - these are air quality, biodiversity, water and waste.

"It includes a new target to reverse the decline in species abundance by the end of 2030.

"We continue to work with bodies such as Natural England to understand how our proposals can support these targets."