The significant increase in energy generated within and off the coast of Suffolk brings with it the challenge of upgrading the transmission network.

This is complex and demanding and will require careful balancing of wider public benefit against the needs of local people and landscapes.

Growing concerns about a lack of well thought through policies and joined up thinking around National Grid’s Great Grid Upgrade (GGU) led SPS (along with Essex and Norfolk branches of the CPRE, the countryside charity) to commission the 2024 Greening the Great Grid Upgrade report.

The report is a detailed critique of the GGU’s strengths and weaknesses and how it might be improved to reduce the impacts on the countryside and ensure that impacted communities are properly heard.

The report concludes that National Grid is hurrying ahead too fast with its plans, risking leaving a legacy of individual projects that may be surplus to energy requirements, do not integrate with each other, fail to maximise their full environmental benefits and marginalise affected communities.

Norwich to Tilbury:

Proposals for an additional 400kW pylon line that will run North/South through the county connecting Norwich to Tilbury were announced in April 2022.

Our position and responses on the Norwich to Tilbury line are available here.

Bramford to Twinstead upgrade:

The proposed upgrade of Bramford to Twinstead will involve upgrading of the pylon line through sensitive landscapes including the Dedham Vale AONB as well as the undesignated “Project Area” for which there is a long term aspiration for its landscape quality to be recognised as part of the AONB.

The project involves removing the existing smaller 132kV lines and replacing with a larger 400kV line. Most of the stretch will be overground via a line of larger pylons but two small sections are proposed to be underground with 80m X 50m sealing end compounds in the countryside at the ends of each underground section.

The route runs through some of Essex and Suffolk’s most beautiful countryside including the Dedham Vale AONB and the Stour Valley. SPS responded on how National Grid’s proposals will impact Suffolk.

SPS responded to the preliminary public consultation in May 2021 and the statutory consultation in March 2022. We called for more of the line to be placed underground to protect the sensitive landscapes in and around the AONB including the Stour Valley project area which shares many of the special landscape qualities of the AONB itself. We also highlighted the damaging impacts that the sealing end compounds – significant infrastructure required at each end of the underground stretches – will have on the landscape around them. These needed to be far more carefully sited. In addition we called for greater consideration and assessment of the impact of the new pylon line on the numerous listed farmhouses and other listed buildings along the entire route including grade I listed Hintlesham Hall.

Read our 2021 consultation response

Read our 2022 statutory consultation response.

Read our written representation to the 2023 Examination calling for greater mitigation of the impact on grade I listed Hintlesham Hall