National Grid’s Connection Options Report October 2012:

Consultation Feedback

 

Within the Bramford To Twinstead Connection Project Consultation, National Grid ran an 8 week consultation on their Connection Options Report. On 25th October 2012, National Grid released their response to that consultation feedback...




Bee Orchid and B Ugly: 

the Stour Valley anachronism that our proposals are delivering solutions for.


This Is Stour Valley Underground's Initial Response


Following on from our extensive response to National Grid's Connection Options Report, Stour Valley Underground reiterate their welcoming of National Grid's decision to propose an underground connection through the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley. We also reaffirm our view that such proposals whilst welcome, are utterly inadequate to deal with the clear socio-economic and environmental issues involved.


We also wish to commend National Grid for adopting our proposal that the underground cabling across the Stour Valley should terminate further south than originally proposed. This will yield significant benefits in terms of visual amenity and the restoration of important designated wildlife woodland. This decision vastly reduces the impact on protected rural lanes and also removes the threat to important and valuable environment that supports rare species around the historic Grade 2 listed Sparrows Hall and barns near Twinstead.


Sadly, that concludes our commendations. Overall, National Grid have shown an intransigence and have not responded appropriately to the fulsome and well researched representations of both the affected communities and the local government bodies that have so ably served us on this issue. 


For Stour Valley Underground it is not just the high value landscapes but also their settings that must be protected from inappropriate blighting by electricity grid paraphernalia. It is clearly the case that National Grid's proposed proposed locations for most of the unsightly sealing end compounds are within the setting of the high value landscapes and will blight the views out of these precious areas. 


In no area is this more plain than in the area that lies between the Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley, the area around Assington. If National Grid truly seek to preserve the culturally significant landscape assets within the consultation area then moving the sealing end compounds out of the views from these areas is a necessity. Achieving this brings the sealing end compounds closer together; so close that the only logical solution is to underground the whole route from east of the Dedham Vale to south of the Stour Valley. That National Grid have not proposed this solution is lamentable and will compromise the right minded objectives of the significant investment in undergrounding already proposed.


The communities affected by National Grids proposals must be aware that National Grid do not seek to come up with the best solution for everyone including the local communities, UKPLC and the energy industry. They seek instead simply to address the planning system and get their plans passed. Their latest document makes this clear. "National Grid does not consider that effects on the environment from its proposals can be properly given a monetary value." they say, and so they don't. Socio-economic impact assessment by National Grid has been woefully inadequate. Thus they have made little effective effort to properly engage with the local rural business fraternity and have no notion of the impact their proposals will have on the multi billion pound (annually) tourist economies of Suffolk and Essex.


Overall, one thing is clear. National Grid's environmental consultants spent far too much time at their desks and not enough time in the field, actually surveying our landscape. If they had, it would not have been for Stour Valley Underground to provide the clearly better solution to underground cable routing that has been accepted in today's report. Stour Valley Underground's research clearly points up the shallowness of National Grid's. Given that this truth pervades both the original Connection Options Report and indeed todays Consultation Feedback Report, there is still a clear case for far more in-depth environmental surveying before any further route alignment work and consultation takes place.


And there is time for better research and better solutions to be found as a result. It is worth noting that the urgency for this connection remains highly dubious with the developers of the proposed new generators, both off-shore and at Sizewell saying that there is no pressure from them to have the connection in place any time soon.


It is also the case that research for National Grid (available on their website)  clearly shows that the public is willing to pay more than is necessary to underground connections such as this one. Stour Valley Underground and its associate organisations have long made this case.


Stour Valley Underground contend that National Grid's latest pronouncements as contained within todays Connection Options Report - Consultation Feedback (available here) are inadequate, does not take sufficient account of the representations of local government or the communities they serve, are based on shallow environmental research and in the case of the issue of public willingness to pay, National Grid ignore high quality research of their own instigation completely.


Finally, the staggering amount of effort put into responding to this consultation by the communities, organisations and local authorities of Essex and Suffolk should not be underestimated. The workload has been enormous for all involved. That National Grid should so glibly address the planning system and not the real issues is an insult to those communities who in all good faith have worked tirelessly to deliver the best solutions for all. 


We say shame on National Grid for playing a game and not truly working with the communities to reach the best solutions for all, solutions the people of this country are willing to pay for.


ENDS


NOTES


A Sealing End Compound is the installation that links underground cables to overhead lines. It comprised a heavyweight 50m tall asymmetric pylon plus other paraphernalia inside a security compound.


Assington and its setting are host to significant and developing environmental assets with notable potential as visitor attractors.


The public's willingness to pay for underground cabling is dealt with in depth on our website here




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