Council calls for national pylon project to be routed under sea

Wednesday, 13 July, 2022
A pylon

Members of Tendring District Council (TDC) unanimously voted last night (Tuesday, 12 July) against proposals for a huge pylon project running across the region.

East Anglia Green is a proposal from National Grid to build 180km of high voltage electricity cables to connect new offshore wind farms off the Norfolk coast to energy infrastructure in Tilbury, south Essex – with only a small section, through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, being buried underground. In addition the project would see a new sub-station built in rural Tendring.

Full council last night backed a motion which, in line with the authority’s declared Climate Emergency, welcomed the development of renewal energy sources, but expressed deep concern about the consultation and a lack of consideration of any other routes.

Chief among the alternatives discussed by the council was a proposal to route the electricity cables under the sea around the coast and up river estuaries – removing the biodiversity and visual impacts on land, improving maintenance access, and future-proofing the offshore grid for further wind farm connections.

The emergency motion was proposed by TDC Leader Neil Stock OBE and Deputy Leader Carlo Guglielmi, and unanimously backed by councillors across the chamber.

Councillor Stock said: “Successive governments have failed to invest in our energy infrastructure; and pylons are such an out-dated form of supplying electricity – this is 100-year-old technology.

“This is the wrong thing in the wrong place, and the consultation has frankly been meaningless, with only one option on the table – and calling it green undermines public support for green energy which is in itself dangerous.

“I am pleased this motion achieved cross-party, unanimous support, with councillors from across the chamber highlighting impacts such as the carbon footprint of pylons, vehicle movements to create this, and the loss of a vast amount of the finest arable land.”

TDC submitted a formal response to the consultation, with the reply discussed at its Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee on 31 May.

The full text of the motion passed is:

“National Grid’s East Anglia Green Project, proposes an energy transmission route consisting of the construction of 180km of 50m tall pylons carrying 400kV cables through the entire central length of our County (as well as through our neighbours, Norfolk and Suffolk), save for a section of undergrounding at Dedham Vale.

This Council has already expressed declared a climate emergency and an ambition to be net zero by 2050 so plans for renewable wind farms off the East Anglian coast are welcomed. However, this Council has serious concerns about the nature and short-period of consultation, the route, and how carbon-heavy the proposed scheme of overhead pylons are which rely on 100 year-old technology.

Furthermore, this Council believes that:

  • There has been insufficient consideration of alternative approaches which would allow for the required infrastructure but without the sheer scale of the damage to the environment, landscape and the difficulties of this project going ahead, all at the same time as multiple large-scale infrastructure projects which have the potential to cause major disruption across the East of England.
  • New offshore generated electricity should be transmitted offshore, which is why an offshore grid is needed. This is firmly in the interests of both residents and business, offshore windfarms themselves and wider interests e.g. Freeport East. Such an alternative approach would future-proof the network and could avoid all the physical constraints of an above or below-ground solution, retain ease of access for ongoing maintenance and provide a more direct point of connection for any current or future off-shore wind farms.
  • This pylon infrastructure is neither wanted nor needed considering the viable option of undersea power cables. These cables could transport power to where it is needed, helping future proof energy supplies and boost energy security, without adversely impacting on residents, businesses and communities across Essex.

This Council therefore calls upon:

  • Both the Government and National Grid to refocus the East Anglia Green Proposals on an offshore solution and engage in meaningful discussions with Essex and its neighbouring County Councils to achieve this.

National Grid to:

  • Provide this Council with all the information asked for in our response of 16 June by 30 August 2022.
  • Make publicly available full, open and transparent information on all options, including offshore and undergrounding, to enable evaluation and comparisons to be made by Essex residents, businesses, Councils and other stakeholders. This information to be publicly available for a period of at least 6 months before any Development Control Order (DCO) application is made.”
Last updated on: 13/07/2022 - 12:10