To seek the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee’s comments on initial proposals from the National Grid for the ‘East Anglia Green’ 400kV and a draft response from Tendring District Council to the current non-statutory consultation exercise.
Earlier on in the meeting Councillor Fairley declared for the public record that, a personal interest in relation to Agenda Items 8, (report A.3) due to family members owning land affected by the proposal. Councillor Fairley stated that the Monitoring Officer granted a dispensation to participate in the Committee’s debate and vote for the following reason:-
‘to represent wider interests of the community and residents who are also impacted upon, especially as this is a non-statutory consultation and the role of a ‘District Councillor’ is to voice the view of the person living in the area’.
Gary Guiver (Acting Director, Planning) addressed the Committee with details of the East Anglian Green consultation and proposals.
The Committee gave consideration to a comprehensive report of the Acting Director (Planning) (A.3) which its comments on initial proposals from the National Grid for the ‘East Anglia Green’ 400kV and on a draft response from Tendring District Council to the current non-statutory consultation exercise.
It was reported that, in order to help achieve the Government’s ambition to achieve net zero carbon by 2050 and to ensure that the power network had the capacity to accommodate a projected increase in demand for electricity generated from renewable means, National Grid was proposing the ‘East Anglia Green’ project. This involved:
• A new 400kV powerline between Norwich and Bramford (near Ipswich);
• A new 400kV powerline between Bramford and Tilbury; and
• A new 400kV substation in the Tendring area to facilitate the connection to the proposed North Falls Offshore Windfarm and Five Estuaries Offshore Windfarm – both of which were to be located off the Tendring coast.
The Committee was informed that, as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), the planning process would be overseen by central Government and a specialist unit within the Planning Inspectorate. National Grid would be seeking a ‘Development Consent Order’ (DCO) from the Government, as opposed to planning permission from the local authority however, local authorities like Tendring District Council would be consultees in the process.
Members were made aware that this project was currently at a non-statutory pre-application stage whereby National Grid was inviting comments on its initial proposals. Its intention was to proceed to a statutory consultation in 2023, to be followed by the submission of the DCO application in 2024, an examination and decision process over the course of 2024 to 2026, construction between 2027 and 2030 and connection/operation from 2030/31 onwards.
It was reported that the current eight week non-statutory consultation had commenced on 21st April 2022 and would close on 16th June 2022. National Grid had put in place a programme of briefing sessions for stakeholders, communities and other interested parties, many of which had already taken place.
In anticipation that the North Falls and Five Estuaries Offshore Windfarms (which would be the subject of their own DCO process in due course) would connect to the grid in Tendring (between Holland Haven and Frinton-on-Sea), it was proposed that there would be a large electricity substation in the Tendring District. This would enable connection of the windfarms to the new 400kV Norwich to Tilbury powerline.
The Committee was advised that the preferred location of the substation was on land close to the existing 132kV substation south of Lawford and west of Little Bromley and that the land-take would be around 20hectares (taking into account the need for landscaping). It was also anticipated that two additional 132kV ‘customer’ substations serving each of the two separate windfarms could be located in and around the same area.
Members were made aware that the preferred route for the 400kV powerline would enter the District of Tendring to the substation to the north of Ardleigh, coming in from the north through the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and out to the south around the north of Colchester. Apart from the section that would pass through the Dedham Vale AONB, which was planned to be provided underground in order to minimise its landscape impact, the remainder of the powerline was intended to be suspended from pylons.
It was reported that Essex County Council was working on behalf of all the affected local authorities to coordinate a technical response to each stage of the DCO project. However, Tendring District Council (TDC) could provide its own response from a community perspective. Therefore, informed by initial feedback from communities and informal discussion with TDC Members, TDC Officers had prepared a draft response to the non-statutory consultation on which comments were invited from this Committee. Once approved by the Leader of the Council and the Planning Portfolio Holder, it was intended that a final version of the response would be submitted to National Grid before the consultation period closed on 16th June 2022.
Having considered all of the information and advice contained in the Officer report and its appendix, including the proposed response:-
It was moved by Councillor M E Stephenson, seconded by Councillor Fowler and:-
RESOLVED that the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee:
(a) notes and welcomes the draft response to the non-statutory consultation on the East Anglia Green project outlined in Appendix 1; and
(b) notes that, with the approval of the Leader of the Council and the Planning Portfolio Holder, a final version of the response will be submitted to National Grid before the consultation period closes on 16th June 2022.
In addition to the above recommendations, the Committee agreed to submit the following comments: