Suffolk wind farm could derail No 10’s energy strategy
Credit: A Cabinet row is brewing over the decision to approve two controversial offshore turbine projects | By Tony Diver, Whitehall Correspondent | The Telegraph | 27 March 2022 | www.telegraph.co.uk ~~
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Boris Johnson’s energy security strategy risks being derailed by a Cabinet row this week over the decision to approve two controversial wind farms off the Suffolk coast.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, has until Thursday to decide whether to approve East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two, which between them could generate 1600Mw of electricity – enough to power 1.2 million homes.
The developments are opposed by Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, who represents the Suffolk coastal constituency closest to where the turbines would be constructed.
A local campaign group has sprung up in the medieval village of Friston, where Scottish Power proposes to build two eight-acre substations to receive the electricity generated by the farms.
Residents say the substations and the underground cables that would connect them to the farms would disrupt the historic village and have proposed that the substation be built in Bradwell-on-Sea, a village in Essex represented by John Whittingdale, the former culture minister.
Fears for endangered birds
The RSPB has also raised concerns about the threat to red-throated divers, a protected species of bird that is known to avoid wind turbines.
A similar project for 65 turbines in the Thames Estuary was abandoned in 2014 amid concerns about the birds.
The local campaign against East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two has the support of Ms Coffey, who has urged Mr Kwarteng to keep the onshore elements of the wind farms away from her constituents.
A source close to her said: “Therese continues to be a strong supporter of the principle of offshore wind farms but she has concerns about the implementation of the proposed onshore infrastructure for these projects.
“There is a more sensible location at Bradwell in Essex and she will continue to push for this option to be considered.”
A spokesman for the Business Secretary declined to comment on the projects, but the decision on their construction comes in the same week that Mr Johnson plans to release his energy security strategy, which is designed to wean the UK off its “addiction” to imported hydrocarbons.
The Prime Minister is a backer of offshore wind, and is also expected to expand government support for more controversial onshore projects.
The strategy is expected to focus on nuclear energy and wind power as two potential solutions to the UK’s reliance on imported energy, and announce a raft of measures to remove barriers to investment in the sector.
It could include reforms to planning laws to reduce residents’ ability to resist new energy developments, and incentives for major investors to inject cash into new projects.
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