SPS welcomes last week’s announcement by National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) of a review of transmission networks in the East of England which is to include the consideration of “offshore routes” for electricity transmission in East Anglia.

The East Anglia GREEN project – which will result in 180km of new pylons from Norfolk, through Suffolk and Essex to London – is National Grid’s sole proposal to reinforce and balance the electricity grid. This is to cope with rising electricity generation from the region – especially from offshore wind.

Many local MPs and campaigners have been frustrated by National Grid’s focus on pylons and overhead lines as the solution to grid capacity, rather than undersea power links off the coast. Offshore options are being pursued at considerable cost in other parts of the UK (e.g. the Eastern Link from Scotland to the north of England).

We hope that this review will allow communities affected by new grid infrastructure proposals the chance to see a comprehensive and independent cost-benefit analysis of offshore vs onshore options.

We call for all other options – both on and offshore – to be genuinely explored including increased undergrounding in the areas adjoining the Dedham Vale AONB. We also urge that all community and landscape impacts are properly assessed and central to the review.

The results of the review are expected to be published in the summer.

National Planning Statements

In the meantime, we continue to focus on the upcoming review of the Energy National Planning Statements as these form the policy framework through which every future energy project which will impact our county will be delivered. It is vital that forthcoming changes to national policy do not make the planning process even more favourable for the developer at the expense of the countryside and communities.

We know that the government’s aim is to make the process of delivery faster and cheaper. But SPS will continue to call for environmental and community considerations to be central to all decisions.

The consultation on the National Planning Statements is due in the next few months and we will work closely with our sister charity, CPRE, the Countryside Charity on a robust joint response.