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‘Energy firm is ignoring local needs’ – Councils launch fierce attack in substation row

Two Suffolk councils have criticised Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) for ignoring growing concern over plans to construct a massive substation in the county.

The plans, which could result in five miles of countryside being dug up for cables to reach the station in Friston, have already faced strong opposition from the local community.

Now Suffolk County Council (SCC) and Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) are calling for energy firms to better coordinate their plans to reduce disruption in east Suffolk.

Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, SCDC’s deputy leader, said: “While some companies are engaging with the local authorities and our communities, others like Scottish Power Renewables are not listening.

“So these massive energy infrastructure projects are being carried out by different companies with little or no co-ordination or consideration for the cumulative effects on the communities that we represent,”

With estimates suggesting that east Suffolk will be responsible for a quarter of the country’s electricity supply by the 2030s, it is becoming increasingly important for providing electricity to the nation.

SPR were previously told by action group Substation Action/Save East Suffolk that the station could be built at Sizewell instead and that their approach to the scheme “defied logic”.

Cllr Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection echoed this sentiment.

He said: “In the previous round of consultation we argued strongly that there were likely to be major environmental impacts caused by SPR’s suggested sites between Leiston and Friston and that other options should be tested carefully.

“But, despite this, our advice has been ignored and Scottish Power Renewables has continued to focus solely on the Friston area.”

A spokesman for Scottish Power Renewables said: “Detailed assessment work has taken place to examine seven potential sites for the project’s substation infrastructure, and we have worked very closely with a wide range of interested groups. We have consulted extensively with Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council, local communities, other energy companies, and a range of environmental groups to get their views.

“The initial feedback led us to look to the western area of our study area to avoid a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In doing so, we have taken into account national planning policy which provides the AONB with highest status of protection in relation to scenic beauty.”

He added: “Our most recent round of consultation has seen an encouraging level of engagement, and we are currently assessing all of the feedback. The views and comments recorded do help to shape our plans.”