The National Grid LionLink Consultation took place on Friday 6th October at the Leiston Community Centre,Sizewell Rd., Leiston IP16 4JU.
The Aldeburgh Society worked with the Golf Club and other Aldeburgh groups and the campaign organisation SEAS to man a stand at the centre and provide materials. The turnout was very high- over 550 people attended. Thank you to all who attended.
Here is what we circulated and which will help in responding to the consultation.
Background Briefing for the National Grid LionLink Consultation Leiston, Friday 6 October 2023
The Story So Far
The Suffolk Coast is threatened by a series of major energy project proposals. Some have already been granted development consent, others are still at the drafting stage.
In brief these are: -
Sizewell C nuclear power station – Sizewell has been a nuclear site since the 1960s. EDF (a French state-owned company which operates Sizewell B) has consent to build a twin reactor station over the next ten years, subject to obtaining some formal consents and sufficient funding from government and commercial sources. Legal proceedings challenging these plans are ongoing.
East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two offshore windfarms (EA1N/EA2)– Scottish Power Renewables (a Spanish-owned company) has consent to build these two windfarms, including a landfall at Thorpeness cliffs, a large National Grid substation near Friston, and a wide cable corridor between the two. Legal proceedings challenging these plans are ongoing.
Friston substation – National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has consent via EA1N/EA2 above. This is the lynch pin of all the wind energy projects coming into Suffolk Coastal. Should the legal challenges mentioned above succeed, then none of the other projects have a grid connection in this coastal area and the offshore grid would be the obvious solution.
SeaLink – National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) is proposing to construct an undersea transmission cable between Suffolk and Kent to boost the supply network in London and the South-East. Two potential landfall points have been identified - Sizewell and the beach road between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, with cabling through North Warren on to a large converter station at either Blackheath or Knodishall, with a final network connection to NG’s proposed Friston substation. The Statutory Consultation will take place at the end of this October/beginning of November before they apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) in 2024.
LionLink (formerly known as Eurolink) interconnector – National Grid Ventures (a non-regulated for-profit company) is proposing to construct a subsea interconnector between the Netherlands and Suffolk to enable bulk power to be transferred either way to meet peaks and troughs. Unfortunately, the power from Holland is not green, but from fossil fuels. Potential landfall points have been identified at Reydon, Southwold, Walberswick, Dunwich and Aldeburgh, with cable trenching to a 26m high / 5-hectare Convertor Station - two massive halls which once operable are locked for 25 years with just a few key holders’ access – in other words no jobs. The convertor station then converts DC to AC on to the National Grid Friston Substation. Statutory consultation will take place in 2024 with a DCO in 2025.
Nautilus interconnector – National Grid Ventures initially envisaged similar arrangements in Suffolk for this interconnector between the UK and Belgium, but has subsequently opted to make landfall in West Grain, Kent and has been investigating pooling the power from Five Estuaries and North Falls windfarms to a Nautilus offshore platform for it to be transported by one set of cables to West Grain. A decision on this was meant to be announced at the end of August, but has been delayed for some reason unknown to the public.
It must be emphasised that Sizewell C and the windfarms and the interconnectors are entirely separate projects put forward by separate developers and running to different timescales. They do however all target connection with the twin gridlines stretching south-west from Sizewell. Recognise also that National Grid is a British/North American commercial public company, not a nationalised utility.
This LionLink Consultation
The Friday 6 October LionLink Consultation is one of three presentations by National Grid officials, following up some previous presentations (including one at the Old Generator Station in Aldeburgh on provisional plans in late 2022) and preparing the way for the formal statutory consultations to be launched in 2025. It will predominantly be staffed by young engineers, planners and PR people. The best people to speak to are the two Senior members of the team, the engineers and the ecologist.
The main argument being put forward by SEAS (Suffolk Energy Action Solutions) and associated groups is that we are in favour of offshore wind energy but that cheaper, better and less environmentally harmful ways are available for managing their output. National Grid are under an obligation to explore offshore solutions and compare the adverse impacts along with cost-saving benefits. We believe the offshore circuits/ grids are now an imperative for Britain and we welcome the proposal for Nautilus to be linked to the Five Estuaries and North Falls windfarms through an offshore platform
The following questions were asked of the project promoters: -
1.Why are you proposing damaging landfall structures, a wide cable corridor and a large converter station in a nationally designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? Is a brownfield or pre-industrialised site not better?
2. What will become of your plans if the legal challenge to the Friston substation plan is successful?
3. Why is the cable corridor so wide? How will you protect rare flora and fauna on the route?
4. Are you sufficiently aware of the crumbling cliffs and the coralline crag in this area of coastline?
5. Have you considered the inadequacy of our rural road network for handling large volumes of construction traffic?
6. We understand that five of the proposed energy projects are within a five square mile area and are to be operable by 2030 - Friston Substation, EA1N & EA2, LionLink and Sealink - plus there will be the ongoing construction of Sizewell C. Can you supply a detailed schedule and timeline on how the construction phases of all these energy projects will interact with each other without bringing the traffic in the area to a standstill?
7. What policies do you have for minimising noise and air pollution and protecting dark skies during the construction process?
8. How long do you envisage the onshore works taking?
9. Do you have any concern for the future wellbeing of Aldeburgh which depends a great deal upon its year-round visitor economy?
10. Why are you not proposing a joint project with Sealink to minimise disruption and costs?
11. Are you considering the alternative option of pooling energy at an offshore platform with the SPR windfarms and taking the power in a single subsea cable to a landing point closer to where it is needed?
12. Can you now see that offshore grid platforms, such as is being constructed on the other side of the North Sea, would be more economic, faster to build, and more efficient, than a plethora of separate cables and onshore structures?
13. Do you support the concept of Holistic Network Design now being proposed by National Grid for the other regions of Great Britain? Then why not include East Anglia?
14. Can you see that the damage you are proposing to inflict on Suffolk is akin to the pollution of waterways by sewage, for which large penalties are being imposed on the water companies?
15. Are you aware that we are prepared to fight these damaging proposals through the Courts if necessary?
Please respond from home via email or letter. SEAS has provided guidance on the questions.
SEAS website: https://www.suffolkenergyactionsolutions.co.uk/