Campaigners write to government over pylons plan

Rosie Pearson and pylons in Wormegay

Rosie Pearson, founder of the Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons action group of campaigners - Credit: Ian Burt/Susan Lang

Campaigners opposed to the construction of a new line of pylons from Norwich to the Thames Estuary have written to the government, demanding support for the line to be buried offshore. 

The ‘East Anglia Green Energy Enablement (GREEN)’ project, which is being proposed and consulted on by National Grid, would see the new power line run from Dunston just south of Norwich, to Tilbury in Essex. 

National Grid has argued the project is needed in order to convey power from wind turbines in the North Sea and help the UK meet its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

Electricity pylons on the landscape at Wormegay. Picture: Ian Burt

A line of pylons at Wormegay in west Norfolk. The National Grid argues that a new line of pylons is need to help convey electricity from wind turbines - Credit: Archant

The current network of pylons in the region dates from the 1960s, and will soon be incapable of carrying the amount of renewable electricity generated off the Norfolk coast, National Grid has said. 

But campaigners from the Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons action group have argued that a new line of pylons would be unsightly and damaging to wildlife. More than 8,000 of them have now signed a petition calling for the line to go offshore instead. 

Now, in a direct appeal to the government, the group has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, calling for his support for the creation of an “integrated offshore grid”, arguing that it would save customers money in the long term while protecting East Anglia’s landscapes. 

Kwasi Kwarteng

The letter was sent to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng - Credit: UK Parliament

“Consumers need all the help they can get right now and our heritage and landscapes must be preserved,” the letter reads. 

The action group’s founder, Rosie Pearson, said National Grid’s current proposal was “the worst option for consumers and for the environment".

She said: “We are asking the Minster, Kwasi Kwarteng, at this time of cost-of-living crisis to ensure that the government does the right thing and protects consumers.

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“That means implementing an integrated offshore grid, not the piecemeal projects currently being delivered.”

Rosie Pearson

Rosie Pearson, founder of the Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons action group - Credit: Susan Lang

Ms Pearson pointed to a National Grid report from 2020, which claims that consumers could save some £6bn if an “integrated approach for all offshore projects to be delivered from 2025” is taken.

But National Grid’s director of new infrastructure, Zac Richardson, has previously said that the firm does not believe it is "technically feasible or economic" to put the whole line offshore.

In a new statement, a National Grid spokesman said: "The government's planning policy states that overhead lines will often be an appropriate starting point when we are developing new proposals."

He added that the firm was currently working on a new study with the government on how best to develop the country's energy infrastructure, when it comes to offshore wind. 

“If there is a shift in policy in light of this study, we will reflect this in our proposals," he said.

“Ultimately we need to connect new offshore wind to our network and we need this reinforcement to be operational by 2031 to help the UK achieve its net zero target by 2050.

"These projects take many years and we must continue work to develop our proposals if we are to meet this on time.

“We are in the early stages of developing the East Anglia GREEN project and this consultation is to hear the views from local communities on our proposed route.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was approached for comment but did not respond.  

The National Grid's consultation can be found at nationalgrid.com.