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‘We’ve already done our bit’ – Fears over impact of hundreds more offshore turbines

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 December 2018

More wind farms like  Greater Gabbard, pictured here, could be built off the Suffolk coast Picture: CONTRIBUTED

More wind farms like Greater Gabbard, pictured here, could be built off the Suffolk coast Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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Hundreds more wind turbines could be built off the Suffolk coast after the region’s seabed was included in a new round of bidding for developers.

Cables from the Greater Gabbard wind farm being brought to shore at Sizewell Picture: PHILIP JONESCables from the Greater Gabbard wind farm being brought to shore at Sizewell Picture: PHILIP JONES

The Crown Estate announcement has proved divisive, with business leaders welcoming the economic opportunities, while campaigners warn of the environmental impact of onshore infrastructure.

Currently, there are two wind farms off Suffolk’s coast, Galloper and Greater Gabbard, featuring 196 turbines. ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) is building the 102-turbine East Anglia ONE and has plans for three more.

While the schemes are expected to power millions of homes, they have also seen miles of cabling laid underground and a 30-acre substation proposed for the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.

Campaigners warned Suffolk was being swamped by electrical infrastructure – and now say their fears have been confirmed.

Harwich International Port - site of the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm Operations and Maintenance base Picture: SEALAND AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY LIMITEDHarwich International Port - site of the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm Operations and Maintenance base Picture: SEALAND AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY LIMITED

Peter Chadwick, whose Save Our Sandlings group opposes SPR’s substation, said he was “very alarmed”. “The fragile coastal area around Leiston has already done its bit for the nation’s power needs and cannot take any more industrial development,” he added.

SOS’s Paul Chandler called for co-ordination to “minimise the horrendous impact”.

Suffolk Preservation Society director Fiona Cairns welcomed green energy but raised concerns about “large scale, industrial installations” onshore. She called for energy to be transferred to the National Grid via an offshore facility instead. “This is essential if Suffolk, as the nation’s energy gateway, is not to be permanently harmed by the piecemeal delivery of wind energy,” she added.

Andrew Stringer, leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group at Suffolk County Council, said renewable energy was to be welcomed “but not at any cost”. He said most energy generated in Suffolk was transferred out of the region, which posed “concerning infrastructure issues, no matter what technology is used”.

Together Against Sizewell C’s Joan Girling, said there had been a lack for planning over power production. “We know wind farms are more environmentally friendly, but we also think the Government should consider the landfall and infrastructure.”

Crown Estate said regions had been selected because they were technically feasible,had available seabed and few constraints.

New job opportunities

The Crown Estate’s announcement is hoped to lead to new jobs and business opportunities in the region.

New Anglia LEP’s chief executive Chris Starkie said it reinforces the region’s position as “an international centre for the offshore wind industry” bringing thousands of well paid jobs.

He accepted, however, that more work was required to examine the associated onshore infrastructure.

With the Port of Harwich having played a major role in the Galloper wind farm, Essex businesses also hope to benefit.

Tim Young, who is responsible for business at Colchester Borough Council, said: “The energy industry is a key sector for north Essex, providing excellent economic growth potential, jobs and opportunities for companies across the region.

“The Crown Estate’s recent announcement paves the way for even more growth in this industry, as well as providing a huge boost for the production of clean and sustainable energy at a time when we need to be doing all we can to tackle global warming.”

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