National Grid Pylon Project

Update – North West Action Group Update

Further to the 49 page objection from Essex County Council, there will be a motion put to the full ECC meeting of 12th July as copied below. The motion will be put forward by the leader of ECC and I will be seconding the motion and speaking in favour. I have also copied a draft version of what I intend to say.

Also, attached is a motion being put forward to Suffolk County Council on 7th July

Chelmsford City Council are considering their response on 14th July for late entry (by 16th July)

Motion to ECC 12th July:

National Grid’s East Anglia Green Project

Moved by Councillor Bentley and seconded by Councillor Steel.

‘National Grid’s East Anglia green Project, proposes an energy transmission route consisting of the construction of 180 km 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 its ambition to be net zero by 2050 and the plans for renewable wind farms off the East Anglian coast is 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 50 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. our Freeports. 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 discussions with Essex and its neighbouring County Councils to achieve this.
  • National Grid to:
  1. Provide this Council with all the information asked for in our response of 16 June by 30 August 2022.
  2. 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.’

Seconded by Cllr Steel

As a County Cllr who has several parishes that will be severely affected by the National Grid proposal, I am keen to make my views known.

I am also a Chartered Electrical Engineer, and so I am not unappreciative of the challenges in moving offshore generated power to the place it is needed.  But as an engineer, I am also aware that solutions need to be balanced, fair, and when it comes to national infrastructure, subject to considered public consultation.

Whilst I fully support the concept of North Sea wind farms to generate abundant, cheap, clean electricity and that the recent increase in energy prices, coupled with the global insecurity of energy supplies gives added impetus to this strategy, I am extremely concerned that National Grid’s consultation, is only on their preferred route, having dismissed the alternative land routes and off-shore option.

I would like to see the see the off-shore route as the first preference, which avoids the need for hundreds of overground steel lattice pylons and would reduce the environmental damage, disruption and despoliation of the countryside.

I think that National Grid should hold a proper public consultation on all options, including the off-shore route, with full details and costings being made available for public scrutiny, not simply an informal consultation on their pre-selected over-ground route.

I have also joined the North and West Chelmsford parish Planning Group who have responded:

  • we support green energy and need to get it into the Grid
  • we have grave concerns about the impact on the environment of doing so with traditional pylons
  • we therefore support laying the cables under the sea for the full route
  • we have particular concerns about the impact on the environment of the proposed route to the west of Chelmsford.

I met with our MP for our area, Kemi Badenoch, and she has co-signed a letter to Greg Hands MP, Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change along with other MPs impacted, to share representations from residents who will be impacted by the proposals as they stand (copy sent to National Grid). She has questioned why other options were not considered for this new route – including offshore and underground routes, why these options cannot be presented as part of the consultation including full details on costings and why the project cannot follow an existing power line. I am pleased to say that she has committed to working with our local councillors, neighbouring MPs and Essex County Council to coordinate our response to these proposals.

As a Chelmsford City Cllr, I am disappointed that Chelmsford City Council have not yet responded to the consultation, requiring a month’s extension for them, to allow the Policy Board to determine on the 14th July. I hope that they join in the consensus of opposition to the narrow consultation process that only asks questions about, what appears to be, a predetermined outcome!

Following the Non-statutory consultation, National Grid can be under no illusion as to the feelings of all Essex residents on the blighting of their countryside. Whilst the off shore route may add extra challenges and costs, clearly, the residents of Essex are willing to accommodate those!

Cllr Mike Steel

Member for Broomfield & Writtle

Tel: 01245 360918