This page is dedicated to the ongoing consultation regarding Eurolink/Lionlink and Walberswick Parish Council's part in that process
Latest Update - 21st September 2023
Lionlink - reminder and guidance for 23rd September Consultation
23rd September is a very important day in the non-statutory consultation process for Lionlink which is now underway. It will take place in Walberswick Village Hall between 10AM and 4PM and if it follows the format of previous ones will be a "drop in" event where you can see and receive details on the proposals as they relate to Walberswick and, most importantly, ask questions of the actual project team
Please attend! "Footfall" at these events is a key measure of engagement for the organisers, so please go in person, for as long or short a time as you like, and encourage all your family, friends and neighbours to do the same.
Please also take the opportunity to inform yourselves as fully and as factually as possible on what is being proposed, so you are in the best position to eventually compose your own response.
There are of course many, many questions you may wish to ask, among which may be:
- What does "potential for a haul road" actually mean? Where will it be? How big will it be? Will it be left behind afterwards? What will be hauled on it?
- How does the Lionlink Interconnector get from the beach to the newly proposed G2 "land fall" site?
- Is G2 now the only proposal for Walberswick or is G still also a proposal?
- Where are the alternative plans for not landing on the Heritage Coast at all, but travelling under the sea to where the power is actually needed?
- Why is Walberswick the only proposal with a building site right in the middle of the village itself
(Clearly these are not the only questions that need answering and are only for guidance)
By close of play on Sunday 24th September the Parish Council will publish the email addresses of everyone we recommend sending your consultation response to, along with guidance on how to give yourself the best chance they will actually open/read it. The advice from the Parish Council remains however not to submit your consultation response until you have gathered as many facts as possible - there is no advantage in submitting early and you risk missing the opportunity to respond to facts that emerge between now and the end of October. The consultation is open for responses until 3rd November
Lionlink (formally Eurolink) consultation documents now available
National Grid have now published the consultation documents regarding a new proposed Landfall site in Walberswick and a new cable route in Southwold.
All the documents can be seen by following this link: https://www.nationalgrid.com/national-grid-ventures/future-developments/lionlink/consultation-materials
Details are still scarce, but the new proposed landfall site is half way up the village, between Millfield Road and Stocks Lane - this can be seen on this map: https://www.nationalgrid.com/document/150436/download
It is very important that as many people as possible attend the consultation day that will be held in Walberswick on 23rd September and make their views known; details can be seen here: https://www.nationalgrid.com/document/150446/download
Lionlink will also be an agenda item at the next Parish Council meeting on 11th September, which all members of the public are welcome to attend either in person or via Zoom; details of this meeting can be seen here: http://walberswick.onesuffolk.net/assets/Parish-Council/Agendas/Agendas-2023/September-2023/Agenda-11th-September-2023-FINAL.pdf
The Parish Council will (of course) be making a formal response on behalf of the village as part of the consultation, which closes on Friday 3rd November, but everyone is also very strongly encouraged to also make their own submissions - we would advise to only do this after the consultation event on 23rd September as you will then have all possible facts available when expressing your views
All Parish Council updates on this topic will be posted to this website, along with the Parish Council's own dedicated page, which can be seen here: http://walberswick.onesuffolk.net/walberswick-parish-council/eurolink/
Lionlink (formally called Eurolink) – consultation day in Walberswick on Saturday 23rd September 2023: 10AM - 4PM
Many will recall that in November/December last year there was a “non-statutory consultation” regarding the proposed Eurolink cable project, including proposed landing sites in both Walberswick and Southwold
The Eurolink Multi-Purpose Interconnector project has now been renamed Lionlink but is still the same project. We have recently become aware that following the previous consultation some changes have been made to the proposals made for both Southwold (a new cable route) and Walberswick (a new landing site). As a result of this there will be a new round of “supplementary consultation” which will start on the 8th September. This time (following strenuous complaints made by the Parish Council among many others) there will be a consultation day in Walberswick itself, which will happen on Saturday 23rd September 2023 in Walberswick Village Hall. The document outlining the above can be viewed here: Non-statutory consultation - August 2023
The LionLink project team will begin publicising the event on 25th of August by mailing a leaflet to all households and businesses in the consultation zone
This consultation gives residents a chance to share their views on both the new and original proposals. More details on these options will be made available to the public when the consultation begins on the 8th September 2023.
This supplementary consultation will follow a similar format to one in 2022 - inside the village hall will be a series of banners which have all the details on the LionLink project proposals, including more detail on the alternative landfall site and underground cable corridor. At the front door of the venue the project team will also be handing out a briefing pack and an FAQ pack with further detail on the project. During the event attendees can move around the room and read through the proposals on the boards. The project team will also be on hand in the middle of the room to answer questions.
As soon as the Parish Council have any more details we will publish them here and this will be a significant agenda item at the next Parish Council meeting on September 11th, which members of the public are welcome to attend
Please put 23rd September, 10AM - 4PM in your diary and attend if you possibly can, as this is a significant way for us to demonstrate the feelings of the village to this project
Eurolink consultation - final WPC submision and where to send your own responses
WPC submitted its formal consultation response to NGV Eurolink on 14 December, which can be seen below. People should feel free to use their own words and/or to draw from the WPC input in their own responses. The most important thing is that we need EVERYONE to do their part and write in to the consultation. Unless NGV hear from us, they will not know the depth of objection - the deadline is 18 December.
Where to send it:
NGV - this is by far the most important place to send it; email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our elected officials - After writing to NGV, please also write or forward your consultation response to our elected officials (the same submission is fine). This should include MP Therese Coffey, Suffolk County Cllr. Richard Smith and the Deputy Leader of the East Suffolk Council, Cllr Craig Rivett who has been delegated responsibility for Eurolink. Note that ESC has not taken a decision on Eurolink so it is important to encourage ESC to defend our communities.
Therese Coffey (our MP): email@example.com
Richard Smith (our county Councillor): firstname.lastname@example.org
David Beavan (our district Councillor): email@example.com
Craig Rivett (Deputy leader of ESDC): firstname.lastname@example.org
Most important for all the above is to only put one name in the "To" box of the email, otherwise it may not get read, so please do each as a separate email
Please feel free to also copy the Parish Clerk into any of your responses: walberswick email@example.com
Approved by Walberswick Parish Council 12 December 2022
Response of the Walberswick Parish Council
Non-Statutory Consultation for NGV MPI Eurolink
Walberswick beach is one of the proposed landing sites for the MPI Eurolink. As the elected Parish Council, we are writing on behalf of Walberswick residents, businesses, and visitors to object in the strongest terms to the proposal of using Walberswick as a landing site.
Our consultation response deals with NGV’s proposals in two parts. First, we make the case in Section 1 that NGV should recognise that Walberswick is wholly inappropriate as a landing site and that it should, therefore, exclude it from further consideration. Second, in Section 2, we point out that we would expect NGV to consider a much broader and more appropriate approach to landing sites and sub-station construction then its current set of proposals that all fall within and/or threaten green field, AONB, SSSI and protected reserve locations in a concentrated area of coastal Suffolk.
1 Inappropriateness of Walberswick as a Landing Site
Through our participation in webinars and visits to the consultation exhibits, it quickly became clear that NGV knows very little about Walberswick. Its desk study missed a plethora of information that would have discounted Walberswick as a potential landing site. The information set out below should serve to inform NGV.
A) Environmental Concerns
Walberswick has a unique and delicate coastal environment. Specifically, a landing on Walberswick beach and subsequent tunnelling and cable laying to reach a sub-station inland and to the south would violate nearly all of the following designated and protected sites:
- Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB
- Minsmere-Walberswick Heaths and Marshes SSSI
- Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve
- Walberswick Salt Marshes
- Minsmere-Walberswick Heaths and Marshes Ramsar & SPA
- Minsmere to Walberswick Heath and Marshes SAC.
In short, with the exception of RSPB Minsmere, it would be difficult for NGV to find a location on the Suffolk coast that has more environmental protection designations. To emphasise the catastrophic impact that Eurolink would have on flora and fauna in and around Walberswick, we use the example of the protected Marsh Harriers which were saved from extinction in the UK by a program launched in RSPB Minsmere. Marsh Harriers are included as part of the important assemblage of rare breeding birds on the Minsmere – Walberswick Ramsar site. The harriers depend heavily on reedbed habitat (including Walberswick) located to the north of the Minsmere New Cut (a sluice boundary at the southern end of RSPB Minsmere) for breeding but are known to also forage widely for food over the Minsmere South Levels and also the EDF Energy estate, including Sizewell Marshes SSSI. The difficulty of mitigating the impact that the construction of Sizewell C will have on Marsh Harriers was one of the chief concerns of the Inspection Panel that recommended against the building of the nuclear plant. (BEIS, however approved the DCO anyway overriding the recommendation of the Inspection Panel.) An important consideration in the construction of Sizewell C was whether it could mitigate its impact on Marsh Harriers. It was ultimately argued that the protected and undisturbed Minsmere-Walberswick Heaths and Marshes Ramsar & SPA would serve as the area of breeding protection for the harriers. Additional land was then identified around Westleton to try to replace the harriers’ foraging areas lost to Sizewell C. These areas were noted in NGV’s Sealink documentation as needing to be avoided in determining best locations for cabling and sub-station construction. Therefore, it would seem impossible for Eurolink to now propose disturbing the Marsh Harriers habitat north of the Sizewell C site, including both Walberswick and Dunwich where the Harriers breed, which would entirely undo the Sizewell C Marsh Harrier mitigation plans.
B) Logistical Concerns
There is currently no road access for construction vehicles of any kind to reach the proposed Walberswick landing site. Reaching the shore is either by a small wooden footbridge and footpath through marshy terrain and over dunes to the beach or via a very narrow bridge (less than one lane) at the end of a gravel track that can carry only a single passenger car at a time. The load limit on this bridge and its narrowness mean that it cannot physically carry lorries. From there, only a footbridge through marshy land and then a walk over the top of the dunes does one reach the beach. The narrow bridge is owned by the Environment Agency and protects a sluice flap under it that separates sea water from the brackish marshes behind. The Environment Agency has already informed the Walberswick Common Lands Charity (the landowner) and the Walberswick Parish Council that the bridge may be unstable even for future passenger car use. The EA is looking at alternative means for accessing and maintaining the sluice flap. Therefore, NGV would have no means of accessing the proposed landing site.
It is worth noting that even before reaching this small bridge, access from the sole road into Walberswick (the B1387) is by a narrow single lane dirt track that is bounded by an Environment Agency sea wall protecting the marshes to the south and hedges that separate several private homes from the track on the north. Large construction equipment would be unable to realistically navigate this track even if there was a bridge capable of handling the load.
The constantly changing coastline and beach at Walberswick would be another challenge for using this as a landing site. The coast is extremely unstable and susceptible to erosion and the shape and surface of the beach is in constant flux. During many regular high tides, and nearly always during high tides when the weather is poor, Walberswick’s shingle and sand beach is completely submerged up to the marron grass sand dunes and the marsh that lies behind them. Even the car parking area, proposed for construction support, is highly susceptible to flooding when the sea over tops the dunes especially during winter and spring tides. We would not think that such conditions were useful in managing construction timelines and costs. There are no electric connections to this area.
C) Impact on Businesses
Walberswick’s economy is built around tourism drawn to the village by its beautiful natural beach, its areas of unique environmental interest and the tranquil and historic character of the village. Two pubs, three cafes, pub accommodation, 2 camping sites, dozens of self-catering businesses and several small shops are all supported by the year-round tourist trade. Walberswick beach is small and a large portion of it would be cordoned off as a construction zone. It would be impossible to walk along the beach from Walberswick towards Dunwich (part of the designated Suffolk Coastal Path) because the beach would be cut in two by the cable landing site. Subsequent tunnelling would lead to additional closures of footpaths heavily used by tourists and residents year-round. The bifurcation of the beach, the presence of construction equipment, tunnelling, noise and light pollution would destroy all the major elements that bring visitors to Walberswick. In 2021, statistics were shared with Suffolk Highways demonstrating that in excess of 100,000 people walk through Walberswick and its footpaths every year. Evidence from the purchase of car park tickets shows that in 2021, over 51,000 cars parked at the Walberswick beach car parks. With an estimate of 4 passengers per vehicle, that would indicate that up to some 200,000 day visitors to the Walberswick beach could be lost. This does not count those who use the beach but stay overnight, live in the village or walk to or take the rowing ferry from Southwold to Walberswick. Whilst summer is the busiest time, Walberswick is a year-round destination for day and overnight visitors. In short, if Eurolink was to land on the Walberswick beach, the impact would be catastrophic for every village business. No business could realistically be expected to survive such a loss of tourist trade during Eurolink construction.
Finally, the Parish Council directs NGV to the separate submission made by the Walberswick Common Lands Charity (WCLC) which details the negative impact that the selection of this site would have on the Charity’s ability to fulfil its charitable purposes within our community, not least supporting individuals in need and hardship. The Parish Council also notes that the land is held in trust by WCLC and that the trustees do not have the power to sell it.
D) Loss of Amenity
The construction phase of Eurolink and ongoing maintenance required would have a hugely negative impact on those living here. The loss of access to the beach and to land along the cabling route during construction, and the long-term environmental damage left behind, will represent an extremely serious loss of amenity. In addition, road access to Walberswick is limited to the B1387. This B-road is shared not only by vehicles (including a large number of farm vehicles) but by a very large number of cyclists and pedestrians. Walberswick has no roadside footpaths. Walberswick has the rare designation in Suffolk as a 20 mph zone in recognition of the danger to pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles of having to share this single roadway that has only single lane access in many places. It would not be possible to safely accommodate the additional construction and worker vehicles associated with Eurolink.
2. Need to Consider Alternative Sites and Cumulative Impact
Section (1) above highlights the key reasons why Walberswick is an inappropriate site for cable landing and related cable laying. However, the objection of the Parish Council does not end there. It is the view of the Council that NGV has not properly considered alternative sites away from the Suffolk coast nor has it considered the cumulative impact that the multitude of energy project proposals including Sizewell C, the Friston substation for EA1 and EA2, Sealink, Eurolink, Nautilus and pending extension of power pylons would have on this one very small area of greenfield coast line and rural communities. We understand that locating sub-stations offshore is a common practice throughout continental Europe and there is no consideration of this in NGV’s proposals (at least on the British side). Nor does NGV consider taking its Eurolink cable to the plentiful brownfield sites either further south or to those further north. Since the power that Eurolink would be carrying from the Netherlands is not focused on Suffolk, why is NGV not considering bringing its cable on land to areas of the UK where it is most needed? Nor has Eurolink shown why it is not considering sites around Sizewell which are already industrialised.
Finally, Eurolink has shown no effort to consider the cumulative impact that its proposals would have on the communities in its path. NGV has not acknowledged that its project would face tremendous logistical constraints in terms of workers, worker accommodation, road access, rail access, and water supply for the construction of its substation and cable laying. Already, Sizewell C has admitted that its “local” work force will need to come from a distance of 90 minutes by car each day, that it will need to build dormitories for up to 5000 workers, that it will need to put thousands of additional HGVs on Suffolk’s roads every day for a decade or more. Sizewell C will have no water source and will have to bring in some 40 water tankers each day from the start of construction and then will have to build a desalination plant to provide it with potable water. The sub-station at Friston would add to this same picture making it inconceivable that more construction for Eurolink’s substation, cable routes and landing sites could be added to this mix in the same part of the Suffolk coast. Therefore, in addition to all the environmental destruction, the impact on the local community, and the devastation it would cause to local businesses and community amenity, NGV should also recognise the huge cost and time delays that its own project would suffer from trying to bring its cable and substation onshore here.
Meetings with MP Therese Coffey and East Suffolk Council:
On 25 November, at the request of a group of Parish and Town Councils, including WPC, MP Therese Coffey held a public meeting on Eurolink and Sealink in the Campsea Ashe Village Hall. The numbers able to attend was limited by the size of the hall. The MP had been offered the use of Snape Maltings but she declined it for the smaller venue. From Walberswick, we had one Councillor, one WCLC Trustee and a member of the public in attendance.
Dr Coffey explained that she was not supportive of the offshore cables and substations coming on shore in our area in an uncoordinated and potentially destructive manner. She and some other local MPs were working together in a group called “OffSET” to try to get Government to support a better approach for increasing wind generation offshore which would involve a North Sea cable that could attract many different developers and the use of brown field sites, such as Bradwell in Essex, for any new onshore infrastructure. She expressed disappointment with the approach and performance of National Grid and was dismayed that BEIS, National Grid and her own Environment Agency had refused to show up for her meeting. She then went on to claim that her ability to influence energy policy was limited and that she could not represent the interests of her constituency in her role as cabinet minister. While glad to know that she objected to the proposed projects and to the uncoordinated approach being taken by each of the energy projects, the meeting was surprised and dismayed that she felt her role in Government was not to represent her constituents. The view of the meeting was that as SoS for the Environment and having sat in high level cabinet positions in the last three Governments, we expected Suffolk Coastal to have more voice in what was being done to the environment and to our communities by the lack of a joined-up Government energy strategy.
The meeting expressed very strong concerns about the impact that the concept of Suffolk as “The Energy Coast” would have on the Suffolk Coastal constituency as well as the nation that could result in putting up to 1/3rd of the entire country’s future energy supply in 5 square miles of rural Suffolk. Speakers expressed disbelief that Suffolk’s beaches, AONB and crumbling coast was being considered as a landing site for European interconnectors when there were numerous suitable brownfield locations. In response to questions about further consultation with her constituency, the MP stated categorically that she would not hold another public meeting and that constituents could write to her with concerns. For those interested, Libby Purves has an article about the meeting in the Times on 28 November; follow the link to see it: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/village-hall-reveals-our-national-power-failure-tq7j0jvf9?shareToken=90716a71086be7ed6338a87084d3205a (Note: this opens in a new window).
On 28 November, East Suffolk Council representatives held a series of meetings with Parish and Town Council representatives to get feedback on Eurolink and Sealink. Along with others, WPC expressed our unequivocal objection to the use of Walberswick and other inappropriate parts of our coast as landing sites and to the massive industrialisation of the coast associated with the construction of Sizewell C, the Friston sub-station and possibly 3 more substations connecting Eurolink, Sealink and Nautilus as well as additional pylons coming from Sizewell. We expressed the view that East Suffolk Council must object to the development which it had not done for Sizewell C nor the Friston sub-station and that the plethora of new cables coming on shore was a direct result of siting these enormous energy projects here without adequate supporting infrastructure. We expressed the view that it was the responsibility of ESC to highlight the unsustainability and massive environmental and societal damage associated with the failure of energy project coordination.
The Parish Council again strongly encourages every concerned resident, visitor and friend of Walberswick to attend one of the consultation meetings (the next one is at the Stella Peskett Hall in Reydon from 10-4 on Wednesday 30 November) and then to write in to express your views.
How/where to share your views with Eurolink and our elected representatives:
Written input will be critical for demonstrating opposition to the choice of Walberswick as the landfall for the Eurolink cable and other views you may have about the overall project. It is essential that letters and emails are individualised; input that is copied directly or petition style letters will have much less impact. Over the next few weeks, we will post on this website some of the key issues that you may wish to highlight. Your input can be submitted until 18 December.
1. You can write in any time from now, but you may find it more helpful to write after attending one of the presentations. The nearest is at Stella Peskett Hall, Mights Rd, Southwold, IP18 6BE on 30th November, 10AM-4PM. If you cannot attend, information is also available on the Eurolink website (nationalgrid.com/eurolink - note this will open in a new window). Your response should be sent to:
- Email response to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Post response to: NGV EuroLink Consultation, Holborn Gate, Floor 8, 26 Southampton Buildings, London WC2A 1AN
Either way, please include your name, address and email contact information with your submission.
2. It would also be helpful if you wrote to East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council to ask them to oppose landfall of the cable at Walberswick. Please note that both Cllr Smith and Cllr Beavan have expressed their opposition (see Eurolink update posting 15 Nov). Therefore, you may wish to thank them for their support and ask them to encourage their respective councils to object. You can send your emails to:
Cllr Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council: email@example.com
Cllr David Beavan, East Suffolk District Council: David.Beavan@eastsuffolk.gov.uk
Again, please include your name, address and email contact information with your submission.
3. You may wish to write to our MP, Therese Coffey, who is also Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Affairs, at her parliamentary address: firstname.lastname@example.org. You should not only ask her to object to landfall at Walberswick, but to help the Suffolk Coast overall by insisting that the national level government look at the cumulative impact that these separate and uncoordinated energy infrastructure projects are having on our protected and delicate coast. Each project — Sizewell C, Scottish Power EA1 and EA2 substation at Friston, Nautilus, Sealink, Eurolink and several more still in development — is compounding the environmental, transport, social and economic impacts on our communities. Moreover, putting so many projects here in an uncoordinated fashion is making it harder to deliver national energy projects because there are insufficient appropriate locations and the infrastructure and services to support construction are missing. The fact that all these projects are proposing to violate protected environmental sites including AONB, SSSI, SRA and RSPB reserves, and that Eurolink has to consider such inappropriate locations, far from the source of energy demand, such as Southwold, Walberswick, Dunwich and Thorpeness/Aldeburgh, is ample evidence of this.
The MP’s office requests that you indicate whether you are a constituent and include your name, address and email contact. Please do not send anything to the MP as a cc:
It would help the Parish Council if you would send a copy of your submission/letters on Eurolink to WPC at email@example.com. Although there is no requirement to do so, this would be useful in helping WPC monitor the issues raised and gauge the scale of input from residents.
15th November 2022:
The WPC considered a report on Eurolink at its meeting on 14th November that was well attended by all Councillors, many parishioners both in person and via Zoom and our Suffolk County Council Representative, Richard Smith, and our ESC Representative, David Beavan.
The Council resolved to unequivocally object to the “short-listing” of Walberswick beach as a potential landing site for Eurolink on the basis of the inappropriateness of the site. This relates to the area being a year-round recreational beach, an AONB and SSSI, and its inaccessibility by road for construction vehicles. Economically, it could be expected to have a devastating impact on local businesses that would already be suffering from the impact on the tourism sector that the construction of Sizewell C will have in Suffolk coastal. Presumably, the Walberswick Common Lands Charity would suffer from the taking of its land and the loss of its main source of revenue from the car parks during construction.
Building on this Resolution, the Council also approved the following Action Plan to push the Eurolink project to drop further consideration of Walberswick beach:
- The Council will write to our elected representatives at the District, County and National levels to express our objections and ask for their support. The Council thanked both Cllr Smith and Cllr Beavan last night for their statements expressing their objection to the Eurolink proposal and their commitment to work with Walberswick and other impacted communities to oppose the current selection of inappropriate sites. WPC will also write to our MP (and Environment Minister) Therese Coffey to ask for her involvement and to stand up for her constituents in her national role by opposing these proposals for landing sites and overwhelming the Suffolk coast’s AONB with massive-scale energy infrastructure.
- The Council will submit a written response to the non-statutory consultations. Approval of the consultation response will take place at the WPC meeting on 12 December in order to meet the deadline of 18 December.
- The Council, supported by statements made by Cllr Smith and Beavan, reiterated that it was essential that all concerned residents, visitors to and friends of Walberswick get engaged in the current consultation process ongoing until 18 December. This should be done through attendance at consultation events, through written submissions to National Grid, and through writing to elected officials directly. Hundreds of residents and visitors would need to get involved to make our views heard. The Council will use the Village website, the Village News and social media to raise awareness, explain issues and encourage wide-scale engagement. The Council welcomed efforts by Parishioners who were already actively encouraging residents to attend the consultation events and write in through posters and social media.
- Councillor Bassinette, who has responsibility for Sizewell C and other energy projects, was delegated to draft related documents and lead on the effort in consultation with the Chair, the WCLC and with other Parish and town councils similarly impacted by National Grid’s plans. In this regard, it was noted that arrangements were already in place for discussions this week amongst the affected Councils. If timing of deadlines precluded bringing consultation and other written submissions to the full Council for approval before submission, Cllr Bassinette was delegated to make those submissions directly on behalf of the Council, and then to present them to the Council at the first opportunity.
9th November 2022:
In the last week four WPC Councillors have had the opportunity to attend webinars put on by National Grid to begin explaining proposals for using Suffolk Coastal as the location for landing underwater electric cables called Multi-Purpose Interconnectors (MPI) and constructing sub-stations to connect to the Netherlands, Belgium and Kent. The proposals for Eurolink and Sealink have not been previously shared with local Parish Councils. The initial proposal for Nautilus was consulted with some of the most likely impacted communities (which does not include Walberswick) approximately a year ago.
This article summarises what was learnt/interpreted from these initial webinars. For Walberswick, the most immediate concern relates to Eurolink but all of the projects have the potential to bring negative impacts particularly when the cumulative impact is considered.
Overall situation for the Suffolk Coast
In short, the Government's decision to allow the sub-station for the off-shore Scottish Power EA1 and EA2 to be located in Friston rather than in a brown-field site, and the building of 2 EPR nuclear reactors at Sizewell C, sets up the Suffolk Coast to become an industrialised area not only for power generation, but for more and more MPI, substations and transmission lines. This is because National Grid, a UK State-owned company responsible for transmission of electricity, is mandated to build transmission lines to where power is generated. In other words, it is the owners of power generation (usually for-profit companies like EDF and Scottish Power) who determine where they build their plants and then National Grid must build and install power transmission capabilities to off-take the electricity generated. The national Government (BEIS, under Kwasi Kwarteng during the time that Boris Johnson was PM), supported by East Suffolk District Council, have approved the building of these power generators in green field, AONB and SSSI sites along the Suffolk coast. Because of this, despite normally building sub-stations in brown field sites if possible, National Grid is similarly looking to put all of its infrastructure in green field sites in Suffolk coastal. Obviously, the relationship between electricity generation and transmission projects would have been known to BEIS. However, by taking up each project individually as an NSIP, and excluding discussion of how the generated electricity would reach the grid, BEIS could approve projects without considering the cumulative effects. According to National Grid, if Friston and/or Sizewell C were not to go forward, then these cabling systems similarly would not be required in this area.
There are currently three set of MPIs and related above ground substations being proposed to connect Friston to both the UK and European grids (and continental Europe to us).
- Eurolink: This is the most immediate concern for us as it is proposed that the cable from the Netherlands would come on shore in one of four locations: Southwold, Walberswick, Dunwich or between Thorpness and Aldeburgh and then travel underground (mostly) to a large substation that Eurolink would build somewhere around Saxmunden-Friston-Leiston and then underground again until connecting to the massive Friston sub-station being built by Scottish Power. The choice of locations for coming on-shore was done only as a 'desk study' and no one from Eurolink visited the potential sites. Eurolink’s consultants said that in determining the final location, they would consider things like environmental damage, SSSI and AONB, accessibility, population centres, etc.
- If Eurolink were to come ashore at Walberswick, the building site would be 2 hectares (20,000sq metres), so pretty much the whole of the beach, the dunes and the Cliff Field car park. Work would take an estimated 4 years, after which only a “kiosk” (like a telephone box) would be left above ground. It is, therefore, primarily about the destruction caused during construction and damage to the eco-system left behind, rather than the operation of the cable itself, that is most problematic (assuming no other issues or repairs would be required). Eurolink would like to start in 2025 with a target of 2029 for completion. The working life of the cables is 40 years, but may last 60-70 years. No answers were given on the effects of coastal erosion over that period as Eurolink has not modelled it. Eurolink is unwilling to share the desktop analysis that led to the selection of these sites and said that they would not do so until their DCO application is fully formed.
- It would seem to anyone who knows our area, that Walberswick beach would be wholly unsuitable given its inaccessibility for transport or materials, its designation as an AONB and SSSI and the fact that it is a full-year, heavily used beach. Southwold and Dunwich (depending on where the MPI would land) would seem to have similar issues. Only if it landed at the Sizewell nuclear site would these obvious shortfalls presumably be avoided.
- Despite having consultations in every other location where the cable would make landfall, Eurolink has reiterated that they have no intention of having a public meeting in Walberswick. In response to repeated requests by WPC, Eurolink have said that Southwold should be close enough for Walberswick residents.
2. Sealink: This is another National Grid venture (being handled through a separate sub-company) which would link coastal Suffolk (and Friston) to Kent. This is to allow transfer of power around and between the southeast of England. Just like Eurolink, it involves an MPI (originating in Kent) landing on one of the Suffolk beaches, leading to another enormous sub-station (26 metres high and 5 hectares of land). Their announced 'preferred' landing for Sealink is on the beach somewhere between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh (reportedly near Aldeburgh’s Seashell sculpture). The sub-station would possibly be in/around Saxmunden, Leiston, Friston area.
3. Nautilus: This is yet another MPI. This one travelling from Belgium and much the same story; coming on shore on coastal Suffolk, connecting to a 3rd substation.
4. New transmission towers? Although this was not part of the National Grid presentation, in answer to a question, a National Grid engineer indicated that the existing pylons at Sizewell cannot carry Sizewell C electricity. They therefore expected that there would be another DCO for another set of above ground transmission lines to connect to Bramford, if Sizewell C goes forward.
Direct Impact of Eurolink on Walberswick
As noted above, if Walberswick were to be the preferred site, the damage would likely be considerable. Many details are unknown because studies have not been conducted. It can be assumed, however, that it would include the loss of access to the Walberswick beach and Cliff Field (which would become a construction site) and the lasting damage that construction would have on the delicate and special coastal fauna and flora on the beach, the dunes, and surrounding marshes. There would also be the construction damage related to digging a trench for the running of the underground cable from Walberswick beach 10 miles or so to wherever the sub-station would be located. This says nothing of the impact on the houses nearby, the loss of the village as a beachside tourist destination during construction (and potentially afterwards because of loss of habitat), the impact on businesses and the lives of all residents. How National Grid would organise the taking of land, including that of the Walberswick Common Lands Charity, is unknown.
If another site other than Walberswick is selected, it will not negate the impact that these MPI projects will have to the south of us. Friston and/or surrounding villages could end up with 5 buildings, each 5 hectares in size and 26 metres tall. This construction would be ongoing for years and at the same time as the building of Sizewell C and the Friston sub-station.
What was made clear is that the decisions (with perhaps the exception of Nautilus) are at the earliest stage. No decisions on location of landings, sub-stations, nor route of cables, have been made. The wide range of places on our coast set out by National Grid as possibilities is an indication of how much engineering work is still needed. National Grid also admitted that they had done no thinking about the transport impacts, how/where they would find a workforce, where this workforce would live, what would be the cumulative impact of Sizewell C and Friston being built at the same time as National Grid’s three additional sub-stations and cabling systems. This means that we should have time now to bring some local knowledge and views to the process. But if Sizewell C and Friston are allowed to go forward then overall the die is cast in terms of National Grid’s additional infrastructure. (At this time, there are Judicial Reviews pending on Friston and Sizewell C and some £30 billion of financing needs to be identified for Sizewell C.)
Walberswick Parish Council will be discussing this issue formally as part of its meeting on 14th November, in the Heritage Hut at 7PM and anyone who wants to come along to listen to the discussion or to express a view in the "open Forum" part of the meeting is very welcome to do so, and the meeting (as always) can also be joined remotely (via Zoom) - if anyone would like to join remotely, please email firstname.lastname@example.org BEFORE 6PM on the day of the meeting
The most important next step will then be to attend one of the five in-person consultation events where you can view the proposals in more detail and put your questions directly to the project team. The dates, times and locations of the events are as follows:
Exhibition Event #1: Leiston
Date: Wednesday 23rd November
Time: 10:00 - 16:00
Location: Waterloo Centre, Waterloo Avenue, Leiston, IP16 4HE
Exhibition Event #2: Saxmundham
Date: Thursday 24th November
Time: 14:00 - 20:00
Location: Saxmundham Market Hall, High St, Saxmundham IP17 1AF
Exhibition Event #3: Aldeburgh
Date: Friday 25th November
Time: 10:00 - 16:00
Location: St Peter and St Paul’s Church Hall, Victoria Road, Aldeburgh, IP15 5DU
Exhibition Event #4: Reydon
Date: Wednesday 30th November
Location: Stella Peskett Hall, Mights Rd, Southwold IP18 6BE
Exhibition Event #5: Dunwich
Date: Thursday 1st December
Location: Dunwich Museum, James Street, Saxmundham IP17 3DT
28th October 2022:
It has been a shock to all of us to have received a mass mailing from National Grid through our letter boxes that suggests they are considering using Walberswick's beach as one of four possible landing sites for a Multi-Purpose Interconnecter (MPI) between the Netherlands and the UK. Follow the link to see more information from National Grid (Note: Opens in a new window)
There have been indications for some time from National Grid that they were considering this landing in the vicinity of Thorpeness/Aldeburgh; however, none of us had heard of any proposals to use Southwold, Walberswick or Dunwich beaches as is now being suggested.
National Grid has had absolutely no prior consultation with, or notification to, Walberswick Parish Council or Walberswick Common Lands Charity (WCLC), who own Cliff Field, on which National Grid's proposal would be built; obviously this is a wholly unacceptable situation. Both the Parish Council and WCLC have immediately contacted National Grid to insist that they hold a Public Meeting in Walberswick during the "non-statutory" consultation period announced in their mailing of 24 October - 18 December. Follow the link to see a copy of the WCLC letter to National Grid
Currently the nearest public consultation event to Walberswick will be held at Stella Peskett Hall in Southwold, on Wednesday 30 November from 10am – 4pm. We would encourage members of the Parish to attend this consultation event anyway and in the meantime we will continue to push for a consultation event to be held in Walberswick itself. It is at such a meeting that National Grid will have to explain their proposal and concerned residents and visitors can attend to raise questions and issues. This will very much be a first step and additional action will need to be determined following this initial period.
Andrew Lewis & James Darkins
Chairs, Walberswick Parish Council and Walberswick Common Lands Charity