Suffolk County Council is concerned about plans for electricity pylons to be constructed in the countryside, rather than using offshore solutions.

The council is worried for the potential harm to Suffolk’s communities and their environment.

It will be seeking further clarification from National Grid as to what is driving the need for this type of connection, and why earlier deployment of offshore coordination is not being proposed.

The new recommendations, published by National Grid Electricity System Operator in their Network Options Assessment on 27 January 2021 for new high voltage overhead power lines, plan to connect from both the north and south, into the National Grid substation at Bramford in Suffolk.

These new proposals are in addition to projects that National Grid Electricity Transmission has confirmed, on 30 June 2020, that they intend to build in Suffolk by 2028. These are:

A 2GW offshore undersea cable, between Suffolk and Kent

The long-paused project, for a new pylon line with sections of underground cable, in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley, between the Bramford substation and Twinstead in Essex.

Councillor Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said:

“Over the last year National Grid has shown an increasing commitment to offshore coordinated connections, and these latest recommendations in the new Network Options Assessment seem to be at odds with that. We are deeply concerned and disappointed by these proposals and will be asking National Grid to explain why alternative, less damaging options have not been recommended.”

“We will also continue to lobby Government Ministers at every opportunity and represent the interests of Suffolk’s residents. While Suffolk County Council welcomes the investment that new energy projects could bring, we must ensure they are delivered in a coordinated way and where there are impacts on our county there must be substantial and robust mitigation and compensation for the people of Suffolk and their environment.”

Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection at Suffolk County Council, said:

“I have always said that these large energy projects must not come at any cost to Suffolk’s communities or our unique natural environment, and my position hasn’t changed. We must insist the Suffolk end of the South Coast Link is situated further south, away from Sizewell and avoiding our AONB, as the area and its communities are already under so much pressure from other proposed developments”.

“We share the Government’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050, and understand the importance, both locally and nationally, of low carbon and renewable energy projects. However, I must continue to uphold my responsibility to protect both the county’s residents and natural environment.

“After so much progress in our discussions around offshore coordination, these proposals are deeply disappointing. We simply cannot have a new pylon line carving Suffolk in two when both Government and National Grid have been so active in driving forward coordinated connections offshore and realising the environmental and economic benefits this could bring.”

Confirmation that National Grid intend to construct these two newly recommended proposals, is not expected before June 2021.