East Anglia pylon scheme running through Palgrave solar farms after route change – adding to problems
Villagers beset by solar projects are fearing further problems from National Grid’s pylon ambitions, with a route change now on the table.
Farm owners Christine and Phillip Murton, whose land is west of Palgrave, are facing the prospect of pylons running directly across their fields, without having any meaningful say.
“This is the second public consultation and National Grid are still consulting us on no other option other than pylons,” said Mrs Murton.
“The swathe of 50m high pylons have now been diverted along the designated Special Landscape Area of the river Waveney at Roydon and between a very narrow wildlife corridor, incorporating Roydon Fen - a designated Local Nature Reserve and County Wildlife Site.
“Why designate such areas as important and then destroy them, especially when there are other alternatives?
“Wortham Ling is a much loved amenity enjoyed by many local people from all over the Diss area, it will likely never be the same again with such devastatingly huge pylons marching along its boundaries.”
It is also feared that the new diversion may breach rules that must be followed when determining pylon routes - as it includes a 90 degree left hand turn as it descends down from Doits Lane, Roydon in to Waveney Valley floor.
The consultations for the project have been criticised for taking place at the last minute and during regular working hours, with South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon describing the proposed routes as all presenting environmental problems.
“Seeking to drive pylons across South Norfolk through to Suffolk and on to Essex remains a bad idea no matter which route National Grid tries to foist on us,” he said.
Worse still, National Grid appears to be telling MPs across East Anglia that an alternative sub-sea cable route is still being assessed while telling local people that the route will definitely be overland - as they did at the exhibition at Diss Youth Centre recently.
“When I met the chief executive of the electricity regulator Ofgem last week, he seemed rather surprised by the contradiction between what National Grid is saying to one audience compared with another.
“Given that creating an offshore grid is government policy and that it will provide much greater resilience, inter-connectivity and future-proofing than an overland route, I continue to emphasise that this is the best option.”
Palgrave Parish Council has also reiterated its objections, adding: “Palgrave Parish Council strongly objects to the proposed route for the section of pylons around Palgrave and Diss, which demonstrates a blatant disregard for the significance of the Waveney Valley as a protected special landscape area.
“We are particularly concerned about the new route to the east of Wortham Ling, which will directly intersect two proposed solar farms and destroy some significant archaeological sites that have been identified in that exact area by the Marsh Lane developers, Aura Power.
“The cumulative impact of such a route on the well-being of our community, the integrity of the countryside, the preservation of wildlife, the flourishing tourism industry, and the overall amenity would be nothing short of disastrous for Palgrave and the entire Waveney Valley.
“We firmly believe that the route traversing the Waveney Valley must be reconsidered.
“Alternatively, we implore the authorities to re-evaluate the long-discussed offshore option, taking into account the immeasurable costs that the onshore ‘pylon’ route would inflict upon the livelihoods of individuals and their communities.”
The ongoing pylon issue is one of three contentious plans facing locals, with discussions over two potential solar farms west of Palgrave sparking debate over balancing green energy needs and maintaining good quality farmland and wildlife.
Last week, the leader of Mid Suffolk District Council called on the government to provide a clear national framework for the development of solar farms.
Cllr Andy Mellen said it was essential to help all local authorities find the right balance between delivering renewable energy, food production and protecting the countryside.
Speaking at the Local Government Association Conference in Bournemouth, he spoke of the difficulties councils and communities faced - particularly around large-scale solar farm applications.
Cllr Mellen said: “What we are currently lacking is a coherent national policy, a strategic joined up plan for energy development and food production.
“We cannot piece this together at the local level. As a Green-led council we do want to see renewable local energy production, but what's the right amount? And what, perhaps more importantly, is the amount that our communities will accept?”
The pylon plan consultation is open until August 21 and can be found at www.nationalgrid.com