Offshore Wind: Norfolk Parishes Movement for an OTN – September Update
Please see the ESN Pylons update attached below, FYI.
This newsletter was produced and distributed on 8th September 2022 by the Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk Pylons action group and we are forwarding it to you today because it summarises very well the wide range of actions that continue to be carried out in the furtherance of our shared cause.
Several people active in the Norfolk Parish Movement for an OTN are working closely now with the ESN Pylons team and pooling our experience, information and resources.
No one is under any illusion as to the difficulties we continue to face, but neither is anyone prepared to walk away from this huge issue.
In terms of the situation here in Norfolk: the announcement was made on September 5th that Equinor have finally submitted an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for their Sheringham and Dudgeon Extension Projects (SEP/DEP). Assuming that PINS accepts the application for consideration, then the public examination will commence in the coming weeks with the Preliminary Meeting, which will most likely take place in Norwich, and will then be followed by 6 months of public hearings and deadlines for written submissions.
All Parish Councils and members of the public can participate in the process – but you do have to register, at the appropriate time.
We would like to encourage all Parish Councils, and especially those who are closely affected by the SEP/DEP cable route, to consider taking the following actions:
1. Subscribe to the PINS website, for regular updates on all developments in the SEP/DEP planning process. Simply google “National Infrastructure Planning”, type “Sheringham and Dudgeon Extension Projects” into the ‘Search project name’ bar, and then type your email address into the ‘Email Updates’ bar, to sign up.
2. Actively consider attending the Preliminary Meeting, once its date is announced. This meeting is much more important than it sounds: it not only lays out the timetable for the process, it also considers suggestions for additions to the Panel’s list of Principal Matters for consideration during the whole examination process. It is very likely that there will be some vital matters not yet included at that stage, that will need to be raised. These might include (a) proper consideration of an alternative grid connection point and (b) the inclusion of the East Anglia Green pylons project as a cumulative impact of SEP/DEP. A significant attendance by Parish Councils (and indeed by individuals) at the Preliminary Meeting would be a clear indication to the panel of planning inspectors (known in this process as the Examining Authority) of the high level of engagement and understanding of the gravity of these issues amongst Norfolk communities.
Finally, I owe you a brief explanation as to my own position, especially as you may have noticed in recent weeks that you have sometimes received communications regarding the OTN, from a different email address. The reason is simple: over the past six months, a domestic health situation has developed which currently needs my full attention at home.
Sandra Betts of Barford & Wramplingham PC and her husband, Jonathan, who sits on their working party on the offshore wind issue, have kindly agreed to take up the reins of coordinating the NPM, at least for the time being.
I am enormously grateful to them for stepping into this breach.
If you have any queries at the moment, or comments you wish to make, then please contact Jonathan or Sandra Betts on: email@example.com
In the meantime – onwards!
With best wishes,
Oulton Parish Councillor
pp Norfolk Parish Movement for an OTN
You haven’t heard from me for nearly a month (perhaps that’s a relief…) but that doesn’t mean we’re not campaigning…
Here’s an update of what we have been up to:
- Letter to Mr Rees-Mogg. We have written this morning to Jacob Rees-Mogg, new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy asking him to support and offshore grid and to come to meet us in East Anglia. The letter is at the end of this email. We have also sent this to the local press. We will ask OFFSET MPs to help us and also to raise the issue with Liz Truss, who you may have seen in the local press has remained silent on an offshore grid/pylons…
- Meeting with OTNR requested. As you know, we were extremely alarmed by the recently published Holistic Network Design (HND) proposal. We wrote to the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR) and asked for a meeting with the expert panel, which has been refused. I am not convinced the expert panel was shown our email so have asked for a second time. In addition, we and the Norfolk 95 Parish Councils movement have written to the OFFSET MPs asking them for a meeting to discuss the HND and for their support to call for a meeting with the OTNR.
- Meetings with National Grid. We will have a half hour meeting online with John Pettigrew, CEO of National Grid, next week. Last week three of us met with a team, including Liam Walker and Simon Pepper, from National Grid to understand more about their next steps:
- They committed to doing a better job with their letters to landowners – more detail.
- They say that our legal opinion is with their lawyers and that they have not yet decided what to do with it. They have our full submission and anticipate that it will be dealt with separately from the main bulk of responses.
- This, being the project team with a remit to deliver a specific project is, like a juggernaut, carrying on with delivering the project we don’t want: 180km of pylons. As we know, they are looking at ‘mitigations’. That might seem alarming, but I think is to be expected. Any shift in direction will have to come from much higher up.
- They will supply us with extra information that we requested and have agreed to meet again.
- It was an invaluable information-gathering meeting and we have agreed to hold more.
- Meeting with OFGEM. We had a very interesting meeting yesterday with OFGEM and they have agreed to more meetings. The industry is so complex that the more we can learn, the better. National Grid (and other Transmission Operators following the HND) will be sending OFGEM their preliminary business case in the next month or so. OFGEM does require options from National Grid, requires a clear demonstration of need and does require a cost benefit analysis that also takes the environment into account. They confirmed that this analysis must follow Treasury Green Book rules, which is something we stated must happen in our East Anglia GREEN submission. We’ll need to get our heads around the details of those rules.
- Meetings with renewables sector. We have had a meeting with Five Estuaries and have one with North Falls tomorrow. We are arranging a meeting with Renewable UK, a key player in ensuring voluntary coordination offshore of windfarm operators. Five Estuaries has been told it has to connect into East Anglia GREEN – all sorts of issues there which I don’t have space for but we’re looking into!
- Fund-raising. You have all been hugely generous, THANK YOU! We have £14,357 in the bank (and several of you have set up standing orders, so that will tick upwards). We are therefore well on the way to the £25,000 we anticipate we will need for a QC’s opinion next year. We also have a Paypal button on our website, which I know some of you have used. (There’s a current issue around a cap to payments but that’s being resolved). A reminder that in terms of governance, there are three directors and two others who are responsible for financial scrutiny. If you’d like names, please do email me. If you would like to donate, please click here.
That’s probably enough for one email. So, thank you to all of those who are helping with so many activities. We have a committee meeting this evening and are starting (amongst other things) to think about how we coordinate leafleting and awareness-raising along the 180km route when the statutory consultation is launched next spring. If anyone loves coordinating things, please let me know!
kind regardsRosie Pearson, on behalf of the Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons action team07766 650208___________________________________________________
LETTER TO MR REES-MOGG:8 September 2022“To the Right Honourable Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP
Dear Mr Rees-MoggWill you support the call of East Anglians for a strategic offshore grid that benefits consumers, communities and countryside?We would like to congratulate you on your appointment as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is both a challenging and exciting time to take the reins.Here, in East Anglia, we are at the heart of the renewable revolution. Offshore wind in the North Sea is playing a huge part in Government’s goal of generating 50GW of offshore wind power by 2030. We welcome this.However, in the big strategic question of how to transmit that electricity, East Anglia has been, to put it bluntly, thrown under a bus. The current, piecemeal, approach means that each wind farm makes landfall separately. The result is energy infrastructure and the digging up of our countryside all around the coast and has led to the proposal for 180km of power lines and towering, 50-metre pylons. This infrastructure will wreak havoc on the environment, farms and countryside of the beautiful, rural counties of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.We therefore ask you to support our solution – one that is good not just for our region but for consumers everywhere. It is a solution that has been supported by MPs across the region, the three county councils, district councils and by the 22,000 people who have signed our petition.STRATEGIC OFFSHORE GRIDThe solution is a strategic offshore grid. National Grid ESO itself published a report in 2020 that demonstrated that instead of the piecemeal, ‘radial’ approach currently employed, a strategic offshore grid would:
- Save consumers £6bn
- Be beneficial for communities
- Be better for the environment.Yet, despite this, BEIS’s Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR), which published a Holistic Network Design this summer, did not include a strategic offshore grid in East Anglia. Instead, it relies on gentle encouragement for wind farm operators to coordinate. That is not good enough. Nor do we believe that it meets the Terms of Reference, which were supposed to take into account four factors – of which communities and environment have been overlooked in East Anglia.We are therefore seeking a re-opening of OTNR. We urge you to support us and to arrange a meeting with the OTNR expert panel.Yes, we need offshore wind power, fast. But we need to get it right, and government must not ride roughshod over communities. Your department must not preside over the unnecessary and irrevocable industrialisation of our region.We would be delighted to welcome you to beautiful East Anglia, with its important wildlife sites, big skies and historic towns, villages and farms, and we seek a conversation at the earliest possible opportunity.Yours sincerelyRosie PearsonFounder, Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons www.pylonseastanglia.co.uk
Pylons East Anglia Ltd
75 Church Road, CO5 0HB, Tiptree
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