Lionlink - outcome of Parish Council meeting on 11th September
Firstly a big thank you to the nearly 100 people(!) who joined the Parish Council meeting yesterday either in person or on Zoom and thank you also for the forbearance of those that could not get into the Heritage Hut itself to hear proceedings clearly.
It is our plan (assuming the A/V kit from the Heritage Hut can be relocated so that a hybrid meeting can still take place) to have the next Parish Council meeting (16th October) in the Village Hall, with it's much larger seating capacity
In the meantime we thought it would be useful to publish here ASAP the notes that were taken for the Lionlink part of last night's meeting so everyone, whether present last night or not, can have the same information - these will in due course also be published as part of the wider minutes of the full meeting:
The Chair noted that there were nearly 100 members of the public present in person and on Zoom. He explained how the public forum would work in accordance with legal requirements and standing orders which limited the forum to 15 minutes in total and 3 minutes per speaker. He also emphasised that the agenda item today was only to allow the Council to consider a resolution to participate in the non-statutory consultation and on how it would do so. He invited any members of the public present in person and remotely to make comment and that, given the vast interest, he would bring the Lionlink agenda item forward from its position in the published agenda to follow the Public Forum so that members of the public would not need to remain at the meeting if they didn’t wish to do so.
In response, two members of the public spoke. One stated that people were attending today to understand better the process and to express their eagerness to support the Council in objecting to the latest proposal. A second speaker said that he wished also to represent the voices of those attending who were firmly against the proposal for Walberswick by Lionlink. He reiterated that there was support for offshore wind, but not for destroying the coast and building energy infrastructure in the middle of the village and that there were better ways to bring the energy to where it was needed.
The Chair thanked the members of the public for coming and for their involvement in this issue. He said that the Council meeting in October would be the time that the Council would consider its consultation response and that this would be the main opportunity to discuss details. He said that the process would be explained more in the following agenda item. He also pointed out that Cllr David Beavan, Walberswick’s representative on the East Suffolk Council, was present and could respond to concerns during his report which would follow the Lionlink agenda item.
Provisional discussion regarding upcoming Eurolink/Lionlink consultation
The Council resolved to take part in the non-statutory consultation related to the new Walberswick proposal and to submit a consultation response to Lionlink before the consultation period closes on 3 November 2023. The Council further agreed to follow the process they had used for the earlier Eurolink and Sizewell C consultations by delegating Councillor Bassinette to draft the response and for the Council to consider it at its next meeting in October. This timing was predicated on the lack of information provided by Lionlink to date and the need to attend the consultation event in Walberswick on 23 September (or one of the alternative venues in Reydon or Leiston or on-line) to understand more fully what they were proposing.
Cllr Bassinette then summarised for the meeting how the consultations had been approached before and what she believed would be the way forward:
- This was the second “non-statutory consultation” following the one in December 2022 on the first Walberswick landfall proposal. During the earlier consultation, the WPC had put in a response that set out why the proposal was wholly objectionable including points related to the specially protected environment, the impact on lives and livelihoods and general inaccessibility of the proposed site. She said that this response was available on the WPC website (See December 2022 meeting documents) and remained broadly relevant. In coming back with this new proposal, Lionlink claimed that they had “listened” to earlier concerns. However, from what is known so far, it appeared that they had not ‘listened’ but instead may have made the situation even worse by moving the construction deeper into the very heart of the village and potentially making an even larger area susceptible to construction damage and disruption. Cllr Bassinette pointed out that the failure of Lionlink to provide detail of their new proposal was unacceptable.
- It was essential going forward that all concerned residents, visitors and friends of Walberswick became engaged and took part fulsomely in the consultation process. This meant showing up at the consultation at the Village Hall on 23 September in the hundreds, not the dozens, and thereafter sending in well-reasoned and unequivocal objections to Lionlink’s proposal. In her opinion, people should avoid using the questionnaire that Lionlink included in the consultation package since the questions and answers could be skewed towards giving Lionlink the answers they wanted rather than allowing the public to actually express what was wrong with the proposals.
- She said that following attendance at the consultation, people should prepare their written responses. They could do this any time before the consultation period ended on 3 November. They could wait until after the WPC consultation response was prepared in order to have something more to draw on, but this was entirely up to personal choice.
- It was also essential that members of the public shared their responses with Government officials so that the depth of objection was clear. Following the October meeting, the Council would publish a list of proposed recipients and their email address including the new Energy Secretary of State Claire Coutinho, MP (and Environment Secretary of State) Therese Coffey, Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council. Emails should be sent directly and individually, not cc:’d. Members of the public should insist that their elected representatives, including their MP, represent the interests of their constituents.
- The Council would publish the draft consultation response 6 days prior to the October Council meeting in line with standing orders. This would allow the public time to read the draft. Members of the public were welcome to send their thoughts at any time to the Clerk and these would be shared with Cllr Bassinette to consider in the WPC response.
- Finally, it was stressed that this was just the beginning of the process and that it could be expected to carry on for at least a year and maybe much longer than that. It was essential that people stayed involved throughout and that there were many ways for people to ensure that their voices were heard outside of the written consultation and the WPC. This could include direct action and making full use of contacts in the media, Government and other well known people who could amplify the reasons why the onshoring of Lionlink on the Heritage Coast was so wrong.
Receive a report from East Suffolk District Councillor
Cllr Beavan said he was happy to be at his first in person meeting since the Green/Lib Dem coalition had taken control of ESDC. He said they was extremely busy “cleaning up” what had been left behind. In terms of the Lion Link proposal, he reiterated that landing the cable anywhere on the heritage coast and building infrastructure in the East Suffolk countryside was a terrible idea and that a much better option was available to build a unified offshore cable link for all windfarms and to bring the power ashore in existing brownfield sites closer to where the energy was needed in London and the Southeast. Moreover, he said that the Government’s refusal to date to put in the offshore cable for wind power was threatening the country’s entire green energy future as the offshore windfarms were stacking up with no way to get the power they generated to where it was needed. He said that none of the Lionlink energy was for use in East Anglia which was an energy net exporter and there was no excuse for bringing it onshore here and destroying environmentally protected areas and our rural communities.
Chair, Walberswick Parish Council