Offshore windfarms decision

We are very disappointed to report that East Anglia One (North) and East Anglia Two were granted approval by the Secretary of State on March 31. While acknowledging that the Applicant had widely underestimated the harmful environmental impacts, the Examining Authority (ExA), and confirmed by the Secretary of State, agreed that the proposals gave rise to a medium level of harm to the landscape and historic environment, they gave greater weight in the planning balance to the need for renewable energy.

The Secretary of State acknowledges and adopts the substantial weight the ExA gives to the contribution to meeting the need for electricity generation demonstrated by NPS EN-1 and its significant contribution towards satisfying the need for offshore wind [ER 28.4.4]. He further notes that the ExA has identified that the Proposed Development would be consistent with the Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 which amended the Climate Change Act 2008 to set a legally binding target of 100% below the 1990 baseline.

We wish to extend our sincere regret to all those affected by this decision and offer our continuing support to the local campaign groups who have run such a compelling and powerful campaign.

Sunnica solar energy park –

Following the submission of the DCO application for a solar farm and battery storage facility across the Suffolk/ Cambridgeshire border, SPS has registered its objection with the Planning Inspectorate. We have objected to the unprecedented scale of the proposals covering almost 1000 hectares of greenfield land and the impacts on landscapes and farmland which will harm the quality of place and pattern of historic landscape. We have raised the adverse impacts on residential amenity and users of the public rights of way.  We have also highlighted the lack of detail throughout the Environmental Statement, which undermines a robust and meaningful assessment, and called for a legacy benefits/environmental fund to compensate communities where impacts cannot be mitigated.

National Grid Bramford to Twinstead upgrade

SPS has responded to the statutory consultation into the replacement of a 27km 132kw transmission line with a larger 400kW line. The proposals include the undergrounding of a section of the pylons as the line passes through the Dedham Vale AONB and a short section through the Stour Valley.  SPS has urged for increased mitigation of the impacts of the upgrade by increasing the length of the underground section.  We have also supported Suffolk County Council in its call for greater mitigation of the impacts on grade I listed Hintlesham Hall through the reinstatement of an area of parkland.

The Dower House, Nowton Park –  SPS has objected to the demolition of this Victorian three storey Gothic house which was built as the Dower House to Nowton Park in the 1880s, and its replacement with a new dwelling. The house forms part of a group, including The Stables and The Lodge, all located within the Breckey Ley Parkland, which is entered on the Suffolk Historic Environment Record. The Council confirmed in their early pre-application discussion that the Dower House is a Non-Designated Heritage Asset. We consider that the building is a skilled and well-detailed piece of design and in a good state of preservation. Whilst appearing tired, it is not in such a state that its condition supports the case for total demolition. To demolish a building as justification for developing a more sustainable building is also contrary to sound conservation philosophy. Most built environment professionals would accept that retention and upgrading of a traditional building is a far more sustainable approach. We copied our response to the National Amenity Societies and were pleased that as a consequence the CBA also submitted a strong objection.

Hill House, Shotley – after being contacted by an SPS member, we examined the plans to extend a modest semi-detached cottage in the AONB by 150%. Although unlisted we consider that the plans are excessive and should be accompanied by appropriate assessments of the impact the proposals will have on the AONB and on a nearby listed building.  We have raised a particular concern regarding the amount of glazing and the impact light spill will have on this remote, tranquil part of the designated AONB landscape.

We have also been consulted, and responded to, a number of revisions to application on which we have previously commented: Boxted Bridge replacement; Erwarton barn conversion; McCarthy and Stone retirement development in Lavenham; Campsea Ashe equestrian centre

Also of interest:

East Anglia 1(N) and East Anglia 2 off shore windfarms – we welcome the action by our sister charity, CPRE the Countryside Charity, who have recently written to Secretary of State, Rt Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng MP, in support of SPS’ position regarding the East Anglia 1(N) and East Anglia Two off shore windfarms. CPRE echoes our call for a split decision which would allow for better coordination of the damaging onshore energy infrastructure needed to support these and future energy schemes.

Following the Examination into these proposals last year, we are expecting a decision to be announced at the end of the month. You can read CPRE’s letter here.

Media coverage:

East Anglian Daily Times, Director’s column: Our identity and pride in the areas in which we live is being eroded (23 March 2022)