Chelmsford Tories call for pylon rethink

Chelmsford Conservatives say National Grid needs to hold a proper consultation to cover all options as an alternative to its plans to build a 180-km long power line across East Anglia that at one point cuts through the city.

Chelmsford City Council Tories have now added their voice to those campaigner calling for electricity cables to run under the sea between Suffolk and Essex to avoid a new 180-km long high voltage power line suspended on 50-metre high pylons across open countryside.

National Grid says the reinforcement is needed to carry more renewable and low carbon power from offshore wind and interconnectors, as well as new proposed nuclear generation at Sizewell C.

The new reinforcement is expected to be around 180 km long. It will mostly consist of overhead transmission lines and new 45 to 50-metre tall steel lattice pylons except for where it runs underground through the area of outstanding natural beauty of Dedham Vale.

The plans have been angrily opposed led by the newly formed Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons action group.

Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP, who chairs Off Shore Electricity Grid Task Force (OffSET) – an East Anglian group of MP’s bidding to protect communities in Suffolk and Essex from new pylons and cabling in the countryside – called the current plans a “no brainer”.

The Chelmsford City Council Conservative Group say they want serious consideration to the offshore ring between Suffolk and the Thames estuary.

In a statement they said: “We fully support the concept of North Sea wind farms to generate abundant, cheap, clean electricity. Furthermore, the recent increase in energy prices, coupled with the global insecurity of energy supplies gives added impetus to this strategy.

“National Grid have launched a non-statutory consultation, but only on their preferred route, having dismissed the alternative land routes and off-shore option.

“The Chelmsford Conservatives would like to 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.

“We demand that National Grid holds 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.

“We will continue to lobby National Grid and the Government to ensure that all necessary infrastructure is delivered in a sustainable manner. For us, this means moving the proposed new pylon route to an offshore location.”

The 180-mile route starts at a new substation planned in Bramford in Suffolk crossing south easterly until it crosses the border into the Colchester district briefly, running past Dedham, Langham and crossing the A12.

The route then moves into the Tendring district turning eastwards into Tendring Peninsula to connect into the site of the East Anglia Connection substation (EAC). The power line route then moves out of the new substation site heading west, crossing back over the A12 to continue the route running past West Bergholt and Marks Tey to the south.

After crossing into the Braintree district, it continues south west parallel to the north of the A12 and railway. Passing Witham to the south and Silver End to the north before crossing the railway again heading north and continuing west towards the Chelmsford district.

Passing Ingatestone on the west the route crosses the A12 and the railway in the north of the Brentwood district.

The route then travels directly south crossing multiple times between the Basildon and Brentwood districts before terminating at Tilbury.

Liam Walker, project director for East Anglia GREEN said: “This reinforcement between Norwich and Tilbury is essential to carry more clean energy to homes and businesses across the UK, and to help the country reach net zero by 2050. We hope local residents will be able to join us and hear more about what we are proposing and give us their feedback on our plans.”

Members of the public will be able to take part in the consultation and speak with National Grid’s team by attending consultation events, online webinars, booking a slot at an ‘ask the experts’ session or by visiting the project website.

The consultation runs until Thursday June 16, 2022.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter