National Grid’s Substation Announcement

National Grid have confirmed that theywant

to build a new electricity substationonthe 

Suffolk - Essex border

on the A131 between Sudbury and Halstead.

In doing so they prove that they have

notlistened to either the communities or local government.

On August 28th 2013 National Grid announced via a press releasetheir selection of a location for a new substation.Their press release is available here.

Stour Valley Underground's response to National Grid’s opening list of points is as follows:-

They say:-National Grid chooses ‘well screened’ site south of Sudbury for proposed substation

SVU say:-

National Grid have chosen a site on the highest ground in the area.

The screening they propose will not be effective for a generation and not within the lifetime of affected residents.

The site lies between woodlands. These woodlands are protected from most development but not from National Grid who have a history of developing substations into ancient woodlands.

The site is also at the gateway to the culturally significant "Gainsborough landscapes" which are proposed for inclusion in an extended Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This therefore is an utterly inappropriate location.

They say:-Local opinions played ‘important part’ in decision

SVU say:-this is categorically untrue!

Local government at all levels, county, district and parish opposed siting a new substation at the chosen location, instead expressing a clear preference for the option of installing the new equipment at the existing Braintree Substation and using underground cabling to connect to the local network.

Local opinion was grossly misinformed by National Grid. The costs for substation options other than National Grid's preferred one were demonstrably grossly exaggerated, a point that National Grid have not refuted. Indeed they have now almost halved one cost estimate.

The consultation was contrived with opinion being mobilised from communities which National Grid knew would never play host to a new substation.

Taken together, we know of no clearer case of a skewed consultation to a predetermined endin which National Grid have so clearly ignored or misinformed local opinion.

That National Grid have not moved at all on their single minded objective of building a new substation at the site they announced today. In 2011, Twinstead residents were told by a National Grid consultation team member that a substation would definitely be sited at the precise location National Grid have today announced. Nothing has changed.

They say:-Further opportunities to comment when we consult formally on the wider project

SVU say:- what's the point? 

Despite the enormous number of man hours the local communities and local government have put into researching and responding to National Grid's substation consultation, it has had absolutely no impact whatever on National Grid's substation proposals.

The manner and outcome of the substation consultation brings into sharp question whether any such process with National Grid can ever truly work to result in the right decisions for all.

Theconsultationhas been so demonstrably flawed and the subsequent decision bad brings the risk that when the Planning Inspectorate examine National Grids planning application, the whole of the Bramford - Twinstead project proposals could be thrown out. Why is a new substation in north Essex so important to National Grid? We wonder what their real agenda here is.

It remains the case that the right solution for all is to place the new equipment at Braintree. That National Grid choose not to flies in the face of their stated policy of minimising the impact of pylons on the countryside. National Grid speak of removing 83 small pylons. The Braintree solution would enable the removal of a further 30+ more pylons yielding by their own evidence, greater environmental benefit.

The archeological and economic arguments National Grid site in support of their choice is highly questionable - if they can deal with archeology in the Stour Valley where they propose much moresubstantialundergrounding, why can't they for a much small cable installation in north Essex? And would this option cost so much more? Certainly, Stour valley Underground'spublicly availableevidencebrings this sharply into question.

We have to conclude thatthisis the wrong decision from National Grid. It is a bad decision for the countryside of north Essex and bad for the future of our rural economy.

Stour Valley Underground will continue to work to overturn this decision and get the right one for the communities of the Essex - Suffolk border.