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Residents force substation plan change

People pressure has won the day after revised plans for an on-shore substation on the Suffolk coast were submitted.

Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Limited (GGOWL), an Airtricity and Fluor joint venture, has submitted a planning application to connect its proposed offshore wind farm to the electricity grid at Sizewell.

The works will include an underground cable and a substation which will be located close to the existing nuclear power stations on the Sizewell Wents, in woodland where landscaping will further reduce the visual impact on the community.

Chris Hill, project director for GGOWL, said the works form an integral part of the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm project, which will connect wind-generated energy from a planned offshore wind farm located 25km off the coast of Suffolk to the National Grid.

The total project is expected to supply up to 415,000 homes with electricity, which is more than the domestic demand for the whole of Suffolk.

The developers want to build the wind farm in time to meet Governments targets for producing 10% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010.

It is hoped to start building the sub-station in 2008 and offshore construction in 2009.

Originally the company had applied to build the sub-station to the south of the Sizewell Gap, but met with fierce opposition from residents and neighbouring Leiston Town Council.

The application was then turned down by Suffolk Coastal District Council, citing the company’s lack of evidence to prove they had exhausted all alternatives to the site.

Since then negotiations have been going on between British Energy, the British Nuclear Group, Leiston Town Council and residents.

Mr Hill said GGOWL had worked closely with the local authorities, community and conservation bodies in the development of the onshore substation location.

Mr Hill said: “Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Limited would like to thank the Sizewell community, the local authorities and conservation bodies for their help in the development of the new proposal for the on-shore substation. It is important we all work together to provide more environmentally sustainable sources of energy.”

John McNamara, of British Energy said: “We have supported this application and have had talks with the company and residents to push forward the position most beneficial to the residents and we will continue to do so.”

Pat Hogan, who represents residents on the Sizewell Stakeholder’s Group, said: “We are very pleased they considered residents and took some notice of the issues affecting us. It is much better to have it on the north side where there is already the power station than on the south side which is just green fields.”