We have submitted our response to the proposed 180km 400kv line between Norwich and Tilbury.

In summary

  • SPS calls for a fully coordinated, offshore solution to protect our countryside and communities and to minimise onshore infrastructure in Suffolk.
  • SPS is concerned by the timing of this consultation in advance of the publication of the Holistic Network Design, and an updated Network Options Assessment later this month. We consider that this consultation exercise should be extended to reflect the very real chance of fundamental changes in the policy framework against which this scheme is being consulted on.
  • SPS agrees with the Suffolk MPs, Suffolk County Council and Babergh Mid Suffolk Councils and other stakeholders that there is a need for clarity from National Grid around the possible alternative options of integrating the objectives of East Anglia GREEN into a proposal for a strategic, coordinated offshore solution.  We share the concern of many that alternatives to the proposed pylon line have not been clearly set out, or the reasons that they have been rejected, fully explained.
  • SPS considers that the current proposals will result in significant landscape and heritage harm that will impact negatively on communities, tourism and the wider economy of Suffolk.

Notwithstanding the above, we acknowledge that the purpose of the consultation exercise is to garner comment on the scheme that is before us, and to that we end we offer the following comments on the proposals:

  • SPS welcomes the early engagement with the local community and wider organisations which can be beneficial in the long run. However, we are very disappointed with the extremely limited options in terms of technology and routing options (including routes both on and off shore) provided in the current consultation. The sole option provided is an over ground 400kv pylon line (except for limited undergrounding in the AONB). Whilst the SPS acknowledges that there is no general requirement to consider alternatives or to establish whether the proposed project represents the best option, the public consultation exercise is of very limited value as it does not give a fair or balanced set of options for communities to consider.
  • Furthermore, a low level of detail is currently provided in terms of the weighting to be applied and the selection criteria for the area of the search corridor. It is not transparent how the specific preferred corridor has been arrived at as no constraints mapping has been provided.

It is therefore difficult to provide a comprehensive response to the project until significantly more information is made available. The sparsity of technological options, and missing environmental and technical detail gives stakeholders very little chance of making a meaningful comment on this scheme, rendering the exercise little more than a cynical “heads up” to communities about what has already been decided, rather than a meaningful pubic engagement exercise.

Our full response can be read here.