Published 22nd July 2020 (Author: Bill H SASES)
UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has been inquiring into Technological Innovations which might contribute towards tackling climate change. It is looking at the potential of new technologies and new Government policy that can enable the UK to deploy them in the best and most cost-effective ways. The first session of this inquiry has been looking at offshore wind power.
Substations Action – Save East Suffolk (SASES) submitted evidence to this Committee in May 2020.
Having reviewed all the evidence, the Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee has written to Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State – Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The letter states:
“Evidence suggested that connection to the grid is the biggest single challenge to overcome in order to meet the UK’s ambitions for offshore wind. The current approach, where each individual developer is provided with a connection offer (for which they pay fees to National Grid), independent of possible future developments, is no longer fit for purpose and causes unnecessary damage to coastal habitats. Key to overcoming this barrier will be for Ofgem to assess alternative options for grid connection, so we can deploy the levels of offshore wind that we need for net zero and to revitalise our economy, but also in a way that is in harmony with people and communities. The industry welcomed the commitment from BEIS to ask Ofgem to assess possible offshore connection structures. Due to the required expansion of the industry, it is urgent that a timely solution is found to this challenge.
Will you ask Ofgem to ensure that its review of offshore connection structures provides an independent recommendation for expanding capacity that focuses on the most efficient long term use of infrastructure? How will you ensure that any new approach identified in this review can be implemented swiftly?”
Whilst it is heartening to finally see top level recognition of the effects of piecemeal energy procurement & development, SASES believes it is essential that Scottish Power’s EA1N & EA2 proposals must be addressed, these 2 offshore wind farms alone represent exactly how damaging offshore to onshore grid connections could be. Residents in Friston and the surrounding area could face years, possibly decades of disruption and a legacy of a huge industrial substation development on the edge of the village. The proposed cable routes through the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB illustrate how one company ‘Scottish Power’ threatens to dig up an AONB, multiple times, causing damage and destruction to a protected landscape and coastal habitat.
Net zero target cannot be allowed to savage an area, it is clear urgent action is needed to ensure that the Suffolk Coast is not subjected to repeated disruption locally. It is not ok to forsake the quality of life of local people, those that live and work here. It is not ok for energy companies and BEIS to sacrifice the Suffolk Coast, the AONB and its tourism industry for the sake of meeting net zero.
Letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, dated 3 July 2020
All written evidence submitted to the Committee