Large energy projects to bring 'significant change' for Suffolk communities, report warns

Scroby Sand offshore windfarm in the North Sea off the Norfolk Coast near Great Yarmouth.
Wind Turb

Offshore windfarm turbines are among projects to be eyeing a presence in Suffolk - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2006

Developers behind large energy projects in Suffolk have been told not to expect support unless the potential harms they bring to the county's environment are appropriately addressed.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet on Tuesday afternoon agreed a new energy response policy in light of the growing number of nationally significant energy generation projects eyeing Suffolk locations.

So far, those include the Sizewell C nuclear energy facility, Scottish Renewables offshore windfarms off the coast and a handful of solar farms near Ipswich and in West Suffolk.

Sizewell A and Sizewell B nuclear power plants

Nuclear projects such as Sizewell C are among those that could impact on Suffolk in the future - Credit: Su Anderson

Council chiefs said that more than 30% of the nation's energy will be generated in East Anglia in future years, and the policy will "maximise the benefits of energy development for Suffolk communities while minimising the adverse impact on them and their environment."

Conservative cabinet member for environment, Richard Rout, told the cabinet: "We all know that these and other renewable energy schemes , while they bring investment, jobs and skills that are incredibly helpful, are not without stark and obvious impacts with our communities and natural environment.

"Projects will not be supported unless the harms of the projects, alone as well as cumulatively and in combination with other projects, are adequately reorganised, assessed, appropriately mitigated and if necessary compensated for."

Richard Rout is the Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection

Conservative cabinet member for the environment, Richard Rout, said the new energy policy would maximise the benefits for Suffolk and address the harms projects may bring - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Mr Rout added that the policy will help Suffolk "play its part in the UK government's 2050 net zero target," by mapping out expectations of developers such as mitigation measures needed on the environment, and infrastructure requirements such as road capacity.

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The council's report said that "significant change for the economy, environment and communities of Suffolk can be expected," and added: "The council’s approach to date to energy projects has been largely transactional, using a development management model, testing each development proposal with the question; 'do the benefits for Suffolk outweigh the harm?'.


A handful of new solar farm proposals are being worked up through Suffolk - Credit: Archant

"Whilst this was entirely appropriate when responding to only a small number of large proposals, it is not sufficiently robust to deal with the succession of generation and connection projects, needed to reach net zero by 2050."

The policy is to be reviewed within the next two years as needed, to ensure it remains up to date.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Gipping Valley, John Field, said: "We are all in favour of clean energy I am sure, but not at any cost - that's the issue.

Mid Suffolk Liberal Democrat leader John Field said the union with Green councillors continued their

Liberal Democrat councillor John Field said that while renewable energy was to be welcomed, it could not be agreed at any cost - Credit: Archant

"My county division currently has two 50 megawatt solar farms predicted on 160 hectares of land.

"That's a large portion for a small parish, and one shouldn't underestimate the impact of that on your entire surroundings.

"It's a real issue, so I am pleased to see a policy that will see a way ahead on that."