Suffolk wind power rivals threaten Britain’s net-zero ambitions

Britain’s efforts to decarbonize the energy sector will face a severe test in a few weeks, when a minister made a ruling on whether to continue building two wind farms in a quiet area on the east coast of England, even though the locals strongly opposed the onshore of these projects. element.

ScottishPower’s planning application for two projects near the Suffolk coast includes permission to build cables and two 8-acre substation complexes on land.

These projects will be the latest test of the tolerance of rural communities to the infrastructure needed to connect to the grid, which is a series of clean energy projects planned for Beihai.

In February, because of concerns about the visual impact of the onshore substation, villagers in neighboring Norfolk County successfully overturned the approval of another large offshore wind farm proposed by the Swedish company Vattenfall.

As part of achieving the goal of decarbonizing the UK’s power system by 2035, the government has set a goal to quadruple the installed capacity of offshore wind power in the UK to 40GW by the end of this decade.

But Suffolk residents have identified at least eight proposed energy projects that they claim may “irrevocably damage” the county’s coastal areas unless the onshore infrastructure that connects them to the grid is coordinated and reduced. In addition to new offshore wind power projects, State Grid also plans to install several new submarine cables to trade electricity with the European continent.

The medieval village of Friston, Suffolk, will be home to a large substation complex © Si Barber/FT

Energy companies and environmentalists have privately admitted that if not handled properly, local opposition in the east of England could lead to “overland wind 2.0.”Former Prime Minister David Cameron Prohibition of subsidies In 2016, onshore wind farms were developed under tremendous pressure from backbenchers of the Conservative Party.

Opponents this time include cabinet minister Thérèse Coffey, local parliamentarian and secretary of work and pensions, who supported the movement to replace substation sites.

Doug Parr, Chief Scientist of Greenpeace UK, said: “The onshore wind power industry hopes to get the approval of the local railway department, which has caused itself trouble. The lesson of that failure must be learned-the onshore part of the future offshore wind power development. It must be reasonable to avoid conflicts with nearby communities.”

Residents of Suffolk County believe that the onshore infrastructure required by the two ScottishPower plans will “carve a highway-sized scar” on the fragile cliffs of Thorpeness and the county’s historic coastal towns. They also needed to build a large substation complex in the medieval village of Friston, Suffolk.

Suffolk Map

These two projects-East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2)-require development permission from the Minister of Commerce Kwasi Kwarteng before January 6.

These plans also divide the ruling Conservative Party with some of its traditional supporters in the so far extremely loyal electoral districts along the coast of Suffolk.

Fiona Gilmore, head of the local campaign organization Suffolk Energy Action Solutions, emphasized that it is not opposed to wind farms, but believes it is possible to connect the projects and export electricity to an onshore hub at the brownfield site.

In her view, “the local community is being treated carelessly and coldly by developers who are using this village as a dumping ground for their green gold and wind energy”.

Alexander Gimson is the chairman of the Wardens Trust, a charity that provides recreational facilities for people with disabilities on the cliffs in the area.

According to ScottishPower’s plan, a cable will be constructed 100 yards from the charity’s headquarters, which will last for three years. Gimson argued that it was close, and that such destruction threatened the future of the trust.

Jimson said his mother owned the charity and its land, and ScottishPower initially provided more than £50,000 to allow it to carry out work such as moving fences and stables. This amount includes the “incentive money” for signing the contract.

Alexander Kinson
Alexander Gimson stated that cables close to the headquarters of Wardens Trust pose a threat to its future © Si Barber/FT

A letter from the attorney representing ScottishPower to Gimson’s mother stated that Gimson would not be able to “make a statement” regarding the development permit orders for the two projects when accepting payment. He thinks this is similar to a “gong order.”

The Scottish Power Company said: “We refuted claims related to our land agreement method on the strongest terms, including any suggestions we tried to disrupt the planning process. These claims are misleading and false.”

It said that no such agreement was signed. “All our agreements are prepared in accordance with the highest industry standards.”

Offshore wind farm
Iberdrola’s East Anglia One offshore wind farm will be completed in 2020 and connected to the national grid in Bramford, Suffolk © Rob Howarth

Residents of Suffolk County said that if the county could benefit from the employment boom in offshore wind power, they would not be so frustrated, but worried that it would only “take the breadcrumbs off the table” and the number of operations and maintenance roles was limited.This is in contrast to Teesside and Hull, which have Attract investment Offshore wind power manufacturing facilities from companies such as General Electric and Siemens Gamesa.

“If someone tells me that this is what East Suffolk is going to get, I might not be so opposed to the land part of these projects,” said Michael Mahoney, who lives outside of Friston.

The dispute also highlights the problems the Conservative Party faces in balancing the government’s net-zero ambitions with its grass-roots concerns.

Perhaps recognizing this, the government earlier this year initiated a review of how to adopt a more “coordinated” approach to offshore wind power development and related infrastructure to reduce the potential impact on coastal communities.

The Ministry of Commerce stated that it is considering applications for the Suffolk project “in compliance with relevant procedures.”

Scottish Power said: “We continue to listen to the opinions of local communities and stakeholders, and consider their feedback, adjust the design accordingly. This extends to our deliberate efforts to protect the local environment.”

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