Grid reinforcement can’t come at any environmental cost

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have formally objected to National Grid’s plans for more electricity pylons between Bramford and Twinstead – saying the impact on the countryside is too great.

The firm wants to reinforce the network to create additional capacity, but the councils say there are significant shortcomings with its proposals.
The comments were made in their submission to the national Planning Inspectorate, which has just completed the examination stage of the proposal, ahead of preparing a report for the Secretary of State, who will make a final decision.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk said National Grid had not fully considered the impact on tourism – describing this as a “serious omission”.

Cllr John Ward, Babergh District Council acting leader, said:

“The development, given its location across the Dedham Vale National Landscape and the Stour Valley project area, will have significant impact upon visitor perception and ultimately visitor numbers. The impact on our residents of the proximity of the development is also going to be significant. 
It is unacceptable that these impacts have not been assessed.”

National Grid’s proposals include constructing up to 18km of overhead line and around 11km of underground cable.
Cllr Ward added:

“We have expressed our concern about the lack of undergrounding between the National Landscape sections and we know that our communities feel they haven’t been listened to on this matter and on the location of infrastructure.”

The councils also remain concerned about the cumulative impacts with other development within the area, including the proposals for an additional powerline from Norwich to Tilbury, which would also connect to the Bramford substation.
More work should be done to reduce the impact on heritage assets in and around Hintlesham Hall, the councils say, and there must be additional information provided showing how the impact of the development, including construction work, can be mitigated.
Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for heritage, planning and infrastructure, Cllr Andrew Stringer, said:

“We understand why National Grid wants to increase capacity, but we need a joined-up plan which doesn’t sacrifice what makes our landscape so special.
There are still significant shortcomings with their proposals which need to be addressed. We would also stress that critical national infrastructure must not only help meet net zero, but also deliver sustainable benefits to the communities where it is situated.”

The councils’ submission also calls for additional measures around the Bramford substation to mitigate the impacts of this and other developments connected to it and enabled by the Bramford to Twinstead project.
The Planning Inspectorate will now write a report for the Secretary of State, who will make a final decision.

Cllr John Ward and Cllr Andrew Stringer and field with pylons