County Councils unanimously agree “no” to damaging pylons proposal

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Authorities in Essex and Suffolk have united to condemn the current proposals for a 180km network of 50m tall electricity pylons.

Essex County Council and Suffolk County Council have passed motions at their full council meetings in July, to oppose the East Anglia GREEN proposal put forward by National Grid for a 180km network of electricity pylons between Norwich, Bramford and Tilbury.

Norfolk County Council is expected to consider the motion at its next full council meeting, following a planned debate yesterday (19 July 2022) being postponed.

The councils agree that the plan for pylons is destructive and outdated, and will cause irreversible damage to the countryside, wildlife habitats and local communities.

A new electricity network is needed to transmit the ambitious 50 GW of offshore wind that the Government aims to be delivered by 2030, and to connect new projects like Sizewell C. So much of this ambition falls on East Anglia, to provide energy for much of the country.

The councils fully support the need to generate this renewable and low carbon electricity, to meet local and national Net Zero ambitions. However, they believe that more suitable, sustainable and modern alternatives for the network have not been properly investigated and presented, such as undersea cable routes around the coastline of East Anglia.

Formalising their long-standing positions on the East Anglia GREEN proposal, the two councils join a group of 13 MPs who recently signed a letter criticising the consultation, along with a growing public petition with thousands of signatures.

Councillor Kevin Bentley, leader of Essex County Council, said:

“We are incredibly disappointed that this initial, non-statutory consultation explored just one option: a disruptive network of overground cables. It was presented in such a way that this is the only option, and that it is a done deal. I would like to assure our residents in Essex, and our friends in Norfolk and Suffolk, that is certainly not a done deal, and together we will oppose the current proposal at every opportunity and pressure for alternative solutions to be fully detailed.”

Councillor Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said:

“It is ironic that the current proposals by National Grid threaten significant and totally unacceptable impacts on Norfolk’s communities, businesses and cherished landscape. 50-year old, carbon-heavy technology is being proposed to deliver a clean energy solution . I have written to both National Grid and the energy minister, laying out our concerns and urging him to consider offshore and underground alternatives, that could allow the clean energy from the North Sea to join the National Grid without the disproportionate impacts that overhead cables could have on our county. I look forward to the motion being heard in the council chamber.”

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

“We are sending a strong message with the councils coming together to reject this completely unacceptable project to get electricity onshore. There is significant momentum against the pylon proposal from our residents, businesses, and our MPs. There has been no clear and detailed information presented on alternatives, particularly an offshore solution. In Suffolk, we have been lobbying for strategic electricity networks since 2011 and we will continue stand firm alongside our neighbours to ensure that Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex are not damaged by the serious shortcomings in these current plans.”

National Grid completed the East Anglia GREEN non-statutory consultation in June and later this year, it is anticipated they will publish a report outlining the key themes from the feedback received and explain the next steps. They expect the first statutory consultation to take place in early 2023, with an application to the Planning Inspectorate in late 2024.