Key involvements this month

Wickham Market – a 90 acre solar park in the Deben Valley – SPS Members have raised concerns about the landscape and visual impacts of a solar farm on Loudham Hall Road. The site lies adjacent to the A12, and is bisected by the 400kv pylon line. Nevertheless, the site is bounded by numerous bridleways and public rights of way and therefore has, in part, a high amenity value. SPS has raised concerns that the mitigation of the scheme is insufficient and called for more effective levels of natural screening to minimise the landscape and visual impacts.

Kelsale cum CarltonCarlton Park Industrial Estate expansion – Residents to the west and the east of the industrial estate have contacted SPS seeking support in objecting to the expansion of the site. Although the site is an allocated employment site within the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan, the impacts of the development upon the setting of nearby heritage assets has been raised with SPS. We responded to the local concerns by calling for a more detailed assessment of the impacts upon the setting of heritage assets close to the application site.

Sizewell C – EDF seeks permission for trial works. SPS has raised serious concerns regarding an application for geotechnical trials for the enabling works of the proposed Sizewell C power station which is yet to receive consent. We joined local campaign groups and parish and town councils in calling for an explanation as to why these works did not form part of the Sizewell C Examination. We have also highlighted the lack of assessment of the environmental impacts of the works. These will comprise up to 16 ground anchor trials, in 5 locations, a deep soil mixing trial area, welfare areas and a 5 metre wide access road which could have significant habitat and landscape impacts.

Framlingham – 115 College Road – Further to SPS’s letter to East Suffolk DC expressing concern at the ongoing deterioration of this important heritage building, SPS has now been advised by the Head of Planning that no enforcement action will taken at this time. However, officers have been instructed to speak to the owners once again to encourage them to make urgent repairs. This is a very disappointing outcome, but SPS is committed to working with local stakeholders including East Suffolk Building Preservation Trust, local politicians and residents to push for better outcomes for this, and other, buildings at risk in East Suffolk.

SPS and CPRE write to East Anglian MPs on the government taskforce

The Off Shore Electricity Grid Task Force (OffSET) has been formed from a group of the region’s MPs, under the chairmanship of Sir Bernard Jenkin, to scrutinise the emerging proposals of the Government’s Offshore Network Transmission Review (OTNR). SPS has consistently argued that offshore transmission of energy produced by windfarms in the North Sea must be co-ordinated to minimise impact upon Suffolk communities as it makes landfall.

SPS has joined forces with CPRE Norfolk and CPRE Essex in raising our concerns with OffSETT, asking for a meeting to discuss the unprecedented impact of achieving Net Zero on the landscapes and communities of our region.  In particular we have asked that all current and emerging energy Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) in East Anglia should be assessed on the grounds of cumulative impacts between the various schemes coming forward in the next five years; for support in our call for the Onshore/Offshore integration of energy NSIPs to come forward much faster; and for an Holistic Design and Strategic Plan, as set out in the draft National Policy Statements, to be brought forward at speed.

Aldeburgh’s Garrett Era Area – conservation area designation

SPS were pleased to learn that the proposed, and long anticipated, designation of the Garrett Era Area as a conservation area is back on the agenda following pressure from the Aldeburgh Society and Town Council. We had been very disappointed in 2021 when, as a result of a public consultation exercise, all work on this was stopped. The consultation had just a 35% response rate, and of these responses 40% did not support designation. SPS supported the Aldeburgh Society in their efforts to resurrect the project confirming that there is no requirement in law for the council to seek the overwhelming support of communities when making such designations.

The Garrett Era Area is a distinctive area of unique character dating mostly from the mid-19th century, largely as a result of the efforts of the Garrett family. The local plan highlights pressures such as plot sub-division, and loss of trees over time with no requirement for their replacement. It acknowledges that this distinctive area of townscape is vulnerable to change which could significantly affect and diminish the character of this part of the town. James Darwin and Dr Paul Bradley prepared an appraisal of the area’s history, character and special interest for East Suffolk DC in 2021. It is available here.

Update on major energy projects

Decisions on both Sizewell C and the offshore East Anglia 1(N) and East Anglia 2 windfarms have been pushed back following requests from the respective Inspectors for extensions of time. We expect to hear the recommendations for the windfarms and the associated onshore substations at Friston by the end of March. A decision on Sizewell C is expected by the end of May. In December the Planning Inspectorate accepted the Sunnica solar farm to go forward to Examination.  The opportunity to register as an Interested Party is open until 17th March.

Training webinar – Net Zero – Retrofit and Refurbishment

SPS are delivering a free webinar on the challenges of retrofitting our traditional building stock on 15th March 2022 10am – 11am.

The speakers will be Morwenna Slade, Historic England – Head of Historic Building Climate Change Adaptation; Alex Whitcroft, London Energy Transformation Initiative – Co-author of the LETI Retrofit Guide; and Simon Sturgis – Targeting Zero and SPS Trustee

Open to all, more details and booking available here.