MPs from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and County Councillors, unite to protect the countryside and communities from the worst impacts of new pylons and cables

Published

The Off Shore Electricity Grid Task Force (OffSET) has been set up to review and respond to the Government’s Offshore Network Transmission Review (OTNR).

A new group of MPs from across the region, under the chairmanship of Sir Bernard Jenkin, and including County Councillors from the region, has been set up to ensure that the emerging proposals of the Government’s Offshore Network Transmission Review (OTNR), and proposals to change the Nationally Significant infrastructure Planning regime, are effectively scrutinised.

The Off Shore Electricity Grid Task Force (OffSET) supports the government's commitment to meet the target of Net Zero by 2050, and the aspiration to deliver 40GW of Offshore Wind, by 2030. However, this will result in a succession of electricity generation and connection projects in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, over the coming decades, which will have significant impacts on the environment and communities of the region.

The group believes that these ambitions and targets cannot be met, on an "at any cost" basis. Therefore, the further development of the onshore transmission system, and the connection of offshore wind farms, and interconnectors, will require a new deal for communities and the environment. It remains a key priority that we speed up the Government’s timetable to transition to the offshore transmission system, in order to protect our communities from the damaging effects of multiple cable corridors.

As well as scrutinising and responding to new policies and initiatives, the group will be a contact point for Ministers and senior officials, as well as for the National Grid, Crown Estate, and Ofgem, to engage with Regional Leaders. The group will also be inviting key stakeholders and community groups to meet with them, to better understand the impacts, and opportunities, of Net Zero transmission and generation infrastructure in the region.

OffSET’s mission statement:

“OffSET exists to promote strategic leadership of the development of a coordinated offshore electricity grid, to address the need for increased grid capacity which off-shore wind, coastal new nuclear, and international interconnectors will demand, while standing up for the countryside of East Anglia so that the welcome transition to net zero electricity generation does not do unnecessary damage to our communities or the environment.”

Group Chair, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, Harwich and North Essex, said:

“The threat of new pylons across Dedham Vale is shortsighted and completely unnecessary. If the government had a proper strategic plan for the National Grid to address offshore wind, new nuclear, and international interconnectors, then we would be planning an off-shore ring-main, not more onshore pylons.”

Group Vice-Chair, Jerome Mayhew MP, Broadland, said:

“The Off Shore Electricity Grid Task Force is badly needed to make sure that the voices of our communities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are heard by Ministers, Ofgem and the National Grid. This group will stand up for East Anglia so that the welcome transition to offshore wind does not do unnecessary damage to our communities or the environment.”

Comments from OffSET members

James Cartlidge MP, South Suffolk, said:

“OffSET will play a vital role in ensuring that our region’s voice is heard in the national conversation about how we boost the output of renewable energy. I am proud of the huge contribution that our region is making to reaching our net zero targets, but this cannot come at a disproportionate cost to our beautiful countryside. It is vital that at all times we balance the need to reinforce the electricity grid against minimising detriment to our landscape, e.g. by using undersea cables and undergrounding through sensitive landscapes.”

The Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP, Suffolk Coastal, said:

“Whilst integrating multiple projects is undoubtedly the right thing to do, rather than having separate connections, it’s essential our precious landscapes and communities are protected by placing the infrastructure in the appropriate place, preferably on brownfield land, like Bradwell.”

Duncan Baker MP, North Norfolk, said:

“The UK Government continues to be a world leader in not only decarbonising but also in producing renewable green energy from the wind. It remains our focus to achieve our net zero obligations, support the targeted 40 GW of wind energy generation by 2030 and help drive the necessary regulatory and legislative changes to deliver the offshore transmission network as fast as possible.”

Councillor Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment for Suffolk County Council, said:

“The County Council has long stated its support for renewable energy generation and the Government has quite rightly set ambitious targets in this area. However, to deliver on these it is essential that public support is maintained for the necessary transformation of the energy system. This means a much more coordinated approach is needed, with more transmission being delivered offshore. We must also see full engagement with our communities so that they and our unique natural environment are protected.”