The CLA has been contacted by a number of farming and landowning members who are very concerned about the potential impact of a new National Grid project, involving the construction of a new electricity transmission line running from just south of Norwich to Tilbury, on the Thames estuary. Most of the line will be on new pylons, and since the route will not necessarily run closely parallel to existing pylon lines, its impact on the landscape it crosses will be greater.
The line will run across south Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, and is part of a programme by National Grid to reinforce the high voltage power network in East Anglia. According to National Grid, this is necessary because existing power lines do not have the capacity to cope with all the new energy that is expected to be connected to the system over the next ten years and beyond. Much of this new energy is expected to be generated by renewable projects, including solar farms on land, and wind farms in the North Sea.
Since the project is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), it will need “development consent”, which will involve an application to the Planning Inspectorate, and depending on its recommendation, a decision by the Secretary of State.
A consultation period is under way, commencing on 21st April and running until 16th June. All stakeholders whose property postcodes are within 1km of National Grid’s “preferred option corridor” (the projected route of the line) should have been consulted directly by newsletter, and given information as to how to respond. Stakeholders within 4km of the preferred option corridor can register to receive project information and respond to the consultation, and the CLA urges affected members to do so.
Information is available on National Grid’s website.
The CLA recognises the need for the electricity supply network to be reinforced; according to National Grid, there is currently 4,100 MW of existing generation in East Anglia, but by 2030, with new nuclear, offshore wind, and interconnectors, generation could rise to 25,000 MW, which would greatly exceed the capacity of the network.
However, this project will have a considerable visual impact on the landscape and on property values, and will cause significant local disruption during construction, and we share the concern of our members who are likely to be affected, should the project proceed as planned. Part of the route will run underground, through the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and consideration should be given to further sections being placed underground as a first option.
In the medium to long-term, we also believe that further active consideration should be given to the installation of an offshore ring main – which has been mooted - around the East Anglian coast, so that some generation from offshore wind farms and continental supplies can be connected to it, reducing the need for further onshore electricity infrastructure.
We should be interested to hear from CLA members likely to be affected by the East Anglia GREEN project, to help inform our response to it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org