Category Archives: Offshore WIndfarm

Dukes Park and East Anglia ONE

My inbox has been buzzing with anxious emails this week  from people worried about a possible planning application for land adjoining Dukes Park. Although planning is a District Council issue it is in Woodbridge County division,and  is  also the site through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routed. As this appeared to have slipped under the radar of both residents and district council until I raised it last Monday,  I contacted the EA ONE  link officer at Suffolk County Council. I wanted to know if he had definitive information on the separation necessary between  housing development and underground high tension cables. closeup EA1

Here is his brief resume of the status quo and implications as he sees it:

East Anglia ONE have acquired both permanent and temporary rights for land within the Order Limits (red line boundary). The exact location of these rights however would not be determined until the project is being built, because the final positioning of the cables is not known. What we know now is that the corridor depicted on the plans is generally 75m wide though only 55m is needed for construction and this could lie anywhere within the 75m swathe. The final footprint for the operational development will be 42m The rights that have been acquired are set out within Schedule 6 of the Development Consent Order  . The permanent rights within the cable corridor generally provide for the retention of cables/ducts together with a surface right of access for occasional maintenance. Lands subject to temporary rights (i.e the ‘surplus’ 33m) would be returned to the current owner post construction (that is, around 2020). However as the SCC link officer understands it:

“…restrictive covenants are also in place. Activities within the Order Limits are prohibited as below. The footprint of the land these rights cover would diminish from the construction (75m) to operational phase (42m), but as I understand it apply to the full 75m currently: (a) prevent anything to be done in or upon the Order land or any part thereof for the purpose of the erection of any buildings or construction erection or works of any kind (including the foundations or footings thereto); (b) prevent anything to be done by way of hard surfacing of the Order land with concrete of any kind or with any other material or surface whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed if the proposed surfacing would not cause damage to relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to maintain the authorised project); (c) prevent anything to be done by way of excavation of any kind in the Order land nor any activities which increase or decrease ground cover or soil levels in any manner whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker save as are reasonably required for agricultural activities or are required to be carried out by National Grid in order to exercise their rights in relation to their apparatus within the Order land; (d) prevent the planting or growing within the Order land of any trees, shrubs or underwood without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed provided that the proposed trees, shrubs or underwood would not cause damage to the relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to access the relevant part of the authorised project). Consequently very little can happen within the area covered by the Order Limits at the moment. The extent of that redline boundary will shrink in due course, but even in that remaining area, no buildings could erected.”

The officer points out that land outside the Order Limits, and any land used during construction once returned to its original owner is not subject to any East Anglia ONE restrictive covenants. However it would be  on each side of the cabling  area. Requests for any further specific elucidation  are probably best directed to:

Joanna Young,  Stakeholder Manager ScottishPower Renewables East Anglia Offshore Wind, Room 101, OrbisEnergy, Wilde Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 1XH. jyoung@scottishpower.com

Proposed cabling works: Martlesham creek & Sandy Lane

While local people are concerned about the potential  impact of the Sizewell C building works on our local community, few have yet recognised the likely grave impact  on Woodbridgeof proposed  large-scale onshore cabling works   from the off-shore windfarm .

This is perhaps not surprising: I was only alerted a couple of days before the  consultation ended that the proposed cabling route would enter the Woodbridge division, when i was first shown a map of the route – and I had to tell SCC officers this impacted on us, rather than the other way round!

The proposal is for buried cabling – which many consider more aesthetic than  pylons, but which will be cutting a 55metre-wide swathe across a significant distance of unspoiled Suffolk coastal countryside:  from Bawdsey, across the Deben estuary, travelling north past  Newbourne, Waldringfield, tunnelling under Martlesham creek, and turning west  on our very own Sandy Lane, where there will be a ‘Primary construction consolidation site’ whatever that might be.

My response as your local County Councillor to the preliminary consultation is below:

“Although I recognise it is a need for aesthetic sensitivity that has driven the planning of onshore delivery of underground cabling for the EAONE windfarm, we also need to recognise fully that the proposed underground cabling will cut a swathe 55mtres wide through the countryside for most of the distance between Bawdsey and Bramford. This will have a terrible impact on ancient trees (particularly, as East Anglia ONE acknowledges, in Newbourne and Martlesham) and we have been told there can be no tree replanting over the top.

 the cable at Woodbridge
the cable at Woodbridge

It may be  therefore, that this will have a greater impact on portions of the route than pylons. We know of no pylon that is more than a few decades old – yet many of the trees that will have to go will have lived for centuries.

The planned works will take place over a couple of years, from, I believe, 2015. During this time there will be a considerable impact both on– and off-road. I’m not talking only of the valued footpath infrastructure, but the fact that these works will cross-over with the proposed Sizewell C building – and the proposed housing development at Martlesham. This will be rather a triple whammy for our section of Suffolk Coastal.

Responding on behalf of the people of Woodbridge as a whole I would like to say that we do understand that the need for this cabling is for the greater good of the population of the UK – but we need you to understand that we  need adequate and appropriate mitigation (to put it mildly) of the disruption – with all longterm negative impacts to the beauty of our timeless landscape prevented as much as humanly possible.

I am yet to be convinced of good reasons as to why the cables cannot be in the estuary – or on the waterline – for much of the distance to Bramford as was originally proposed.

My underlying feeling is that we along the Deben estuary should not be bearing the brunt of development for the good of the nation as a whole, without scheme recognising the full importance of this – and putting time and effort into ensuring minimum impact, and compensating us adequately for what impact there has to be on the environment!”

What’s happening in Suffolk March 2013

The last few weeks before the upcoming electoral moratorium – and a lot of things have been happening:  at home, underground cables are coming close to Woodbridge and destroying all the trees in its 55m wide path, Woodbridge Youth Centre has been saved and my Locality and Quality of Life budgets  have been spent.At county level  – the SCC 2013-14 budget is finalised and various cabinet decisions have been made. Scc has a new  candidate to take over Highways maintenance. 

 And finally – and most satisfactorily – the meat served in Suffolk schools has been found to be free of equine DNA .
In detail:

Next year’s SCC Budget   Suffolk County’s Full Council budget meeting took place on the 14th of February. As I mentioned last month, the administration’s budget aimed to cut £24.9m this financial year.  This included £7m from Adult and Community Services, and £2.5m from remodelling Children’s services.  The council’s reserves currently stand at £152m –  just under one third of the total budget.

The Liberal Democrat Group submitted an amendment to the budget aiming to improve services in a number of different areas. This would have been funded from the contingency reserve.

  • £650,000 to School Improvement Services – to employ additional advisors that go into schools to provide guidance to help schools improve their level of attainment, which drastically needs improving in Suffolk.
  • £475,000 for providing an additional 1900 days of supply work providing it is matched by school funds. This would allow time for teachers from well performing schools to partner with those who are not doing as well. This approach has been very successful in Hackney.
  • £300,000 to help Suffolk County Council commit to a pilot scheme that would increase the number of foster carers for the most vulnerable children in Suffolk.
  • £300,000 to respond to local community requests for 20mph zones in Suffolk towns and villages.

We believe would have helped to improve attainment in Suffolk, care for those vulnerable children and to improve the response to new speed limits, following the Cabinet Member’s disbanding of the speed management team at the County Council.

The school improvement budget has been cut substantially over the last few years and this has coincided with a dramatic fall in the performance of Suffolk schools, so we were very disappointed that our amendment was defeated.

School Meals in Suffolk   The catering provider to schools in Suffolk, EATS, has provided assurance that the meat provided in its schools does not contain any horsemeat.

The vast majority of meals provided for children in Suffolk schools, are created inhouse, and beef used by EATS is Red Tractor accredited.   The red tractor logo is a guarantee of both quality and origin.

Woodbridge Youth Centre  As you know I have been very anxious about  an unconfirmed threat of development of Woodbridge Youth Centre premises for a couple of years. 

Refer to my blog for full details but in short it turned out that this threat was genuine – and had extended as far as officers secretly deciding not to process our local youth club Just 42’s licence to occupy the premises – possibly in case it was necessary to give them speedy notice to quit!   This decision was not declared by officers.  This culture of secrecy also meant that plans and proposals were being discussed and taken forward as far as actual  physical paper plans for the development in question ( I have copies ) without any reference to the occupants, the users, the elected councillors at all levels and the people of Woodbridge as a whole.

I took my concerns to the most senior officer in SCC – Chief Executive Deborah Cadman, who investigated the matter. She assures me that officers will never in the future make decisions without involving local elected representatives to the full. We have been told that Woodbridge Youth Centre is now safe and that any discussion about its long-term future will involve all stakeholders, which jolly well includes our elected councillors.

My Woodbridge locality officer – in collaboration with Emma Smith of SCC – arranged the first  WYC stakeholders meeting last week – and I was delighted to see both Town and District council represented.

Speed restrictions  in Woodbridge   I  asked the following question at March 14th Full Council:

A 20-year longitudinal study of 20mph limits found that an extra 10mph off the current road limit reduced casualties by 42 percent, as well as reducing pollution, and promoting cycling, walking and local shopping. This is because only one in 40 pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 20mph die, compared to the figure of one in five when hit at 30mph

New guidance, issued by the Department of Transport, sets out the criteria for a reduction in speed limits which safety campaigns believe could reduce child pedestrian ksi  by as much as 70 per cent. The Government is urging councils to cut speed limits to 20mph in residential and  urban areas and built-up village streets. The guidance is expected to result in a significant national increase in the number of 20mph zones – as well as more rural 40mph zones. More than half of local councils are keeping up with the times in this respect:  reversing decades of policy which prioritised motor vehicles over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.  Islington Council which has limited all of its managed roads to 20mph,  claims a 65 per cent fall in accidents in its 20mph areas.

Earlier this year, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for roads and transport disbanded the team that dealt with routine requests for speed limit extensions in the county and put a freeze on implementing new speed restriction zones on the grounds that  Suffolk already had enough speed restrictions in place, and following a review of A and B class roads, he was confident speed limits complied with the “most up to date guidance” from the Department for Transport.

As this is clearly no longer the case can he inform us what he is doing urgently to reverse this decision and give many Suffolk communities the opportunity they have asked for in vain – in Woodbridge’s case, since 2010

Locality Budget/Quality of Life budgets for Woodbridge  All my Locality budget money has been spent on a nice broad spread of local projects. To prevent any claw-back to SCC – which is what happens to any money uncommitted or returned  at the end of the electoral cycle – I have asked  the Locality Budget Officer to add any such into the Elmhurst Park funding.

And at least four of the QoL road schemes I have been working on over the last couple of years are all finally coming to fruition within this electoral cycle.These are,

  • new signage to prevent HGVs trying to get to the town centre via Angel Lane;
  • sighns and lines slowing traffic on Cemetery Lane;
  • calming Sandy Lane  with pedestrian and cyclist warning signs  at each end and at the railway bridge, and white edge markings throughout for pedestrians to walk behind. These would also give warning of the road edge at night which will be very useful, particularly to cyclists
  • more cycle racks – removing the three at Cafe Nero (which are expensive to match) up to Shire Hall, and putting five new matching ones down at Cafe Nero.

The only one that will not be at least started before the upcoming electoral moratorium is the new sign at the entrance to Cumberland Street from cross corner, forbidding all vehicles except bicycles.

February Cabinet decisions   The February Cabinet on the 26th, contained a number of significant issues for residents across the County.   Some of the issues that were discussed and agreed were;

  • East Anglia ONE Offshore windfarm – SCC’s  response to the consultation of this application which will see a significant section of the power cables from the windfarm come ashore and be buried underground travelling from Felixstowe to Bramford.  I have blogged on this http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/02/28/ea-one-offshore-windfarm-implications-for-deben-estuary-countryside/ and submitted a response suggesting amelioration, and querying why this plan has abandoned the original notion of putting the cabling UP the estuary.
  • Procurement of Highways Services –  after the debacle of their previous procurement of a preferred bidder, the Cabinet agreed to negotiate extensions to the current highways contract up to the 30th September, and proceed with awarding a new highways contract to the joint venture between May Gurney & WSP UK Ltd which will commence on the 1st of October.
    I asked them what would happen should this preferred bidder fall through, and they said this was ‘very unlikely’ – which is what they said when I asked them last time bout the first ‘preferred bidder’, Balfour Beattie.
  • bringing the Councils customer service function back into the Council (from CSD) as of May 2014.  This includes public access and Customer First functions.

Stowmarket and Stowupland SOR  SCC Cabinet made the decision on 26th of February to abolish the middle schools in Stowmarket and Stowupland. The Liberal Democrats attempted to get the decision called into the Scrutiny Committee as we felt the justification for making this decision was flawed.  We were particularly concerned about the lack of funding to provide top class schools in this area, as the plans will see a split site school created in Stowmarket.   We also highlighted the contrasting statistics provided by the Council and the campaign group to support opposing cases, as well as issues over safety.

The call in was rejected on the grounds that the Cabinet had all the required information to hand, which means the decision has now been approved.   The Lib Dem group are disappointed that an opportunity to look again at such a large issue to which so many parents and pupils feel passionately about has been refused.

This is particularly so when national governmental policy appears now to be turning in favour of a three-tier system again

What happens to your recycled items?   The Suffolk Waste Partnership has produced a very interesting document, which highlights what happens to the waste that we recycle here in Suffolk.   This PDF includes information about how many tonnes of waste are recycled in each category, where the waste ends up, and the fact that as a County we recycle 53.2% of our waste.  http://www.greensuffolk.org/assets/Recycling/Where-It-Goes/2011-12-End-Destination-Register-v5.pdf

EA One Offshore Windfarm – grave implications for local countryside

This is just a brief post to alert people that the East Anglia ONE consultation concerning the proposed onshore cabling from the proposed offshore windfarm  finishes on 6 March. Please respond with your concerns.

The proposal is for buried cabling – which many consider more aesthetic than  pylons, but which will be cutting a 55metre-wide swathe across a significant distance of unspoiled Suffolk coastal countryside:  from Bawdsey, across the Deben estuary, travelling north past  Newbourne, Waldringfield, tunnelling under across Martlesham creek, and turning west  on our very own Sandy Lane, where there will be a ‘Primary construction consolidation site’ whatever that might be. It will then tunnel under the A12 and travel the length of the  Finn Valley, past Little Bealings, Playford, Tuddenham St Martin, and Akenham, before  turning south to Bramford.

THis is the proposed rout of the  windfarm cabling from Bawdsey along the west side of the Deben and down the Fynn Valley. Click for larger view
The proposed route of EA One windfarm cabling from Bawdsey along the west side of the Deben and down the Fynn Valley. Click for larger view

May I repeat that this will cut a swathe 55m wide for most of the distance between Bawdsey and Bramford, with a temporary access road along the  whole length; that it will remove ancient trees (particularly, East Anglia ONE acknowledge, in Newbourne and Martlesham) and there can be no tree replanting over the top.

It may be that this will have a greater impact on portions of the route than pylons. We know of no pylon that is more than a few decades old – some of the trees what will go may have lived for centuries.

The planned works will take place over a  couple of years, from, I think, 2015. During the time there will be a considerable impact both on– and off-road. I’m not talking only of the valued  footpath infrastructure, but the fact tht these works will cross-over with the proposed Sizewell C building – and the proposed large-scale housing development at Martlesham. Rather a triple whammy, tourism-wise.

I will be responding on behalf of the people of Woodbridge as a whole. My interest will be in stressing the need for adequate mitigation (to put it mildly) and preventing as far as possible, negative impacts.  As with the SIzewell consultation, my underlying feeling is that we should not be bearing the brunt of development for the good of the nation as a whole, without the nation recognising this, putting time and effort  into ensuring minimum impact, and compensating us adequately for our kindness!

 

 the cable at Woodbridge
the cable at Woodbridge

Do contact me if there are issues you wish me to raise on your behalf.