Looking back over all the pylon coverage, of which there has been a lot this summer, I am incredibly grateful to all of the activists and campaigners who have been making the case for an offshore grid.
I have spoken to a number of journalists and campaigners and the one single point that has not been stressed enough, is that it’s not simply an argument of pylons vs undersea, the focus should be on the massive difference in investment in undersea cabling that is happening in other parts of the country, which does not seem to be an option for East Anglia.
From the beginning, I have always highlighted the unfairness of the billions of pounds of investment in other parts of the country, with reasons such as speed of delivery and potential impact on communities as to why onshore overhead lines were discounted, and undersea cables have been progressed.
A clear comparison:
- Western Link - Cost: £1.02Billion, Capacity: 2.2GW, Mileage: 770km (478.5 miles) undersea - Link connects the west coast of Scotland with Quay Bay, on the north coast of Wales.
- Eastern Link - Estimated Cost: £3.4Billion, Capacity: 4GW (Combined capacity as 2 cables), Total mileage for 2 cables: 616km (382 miles) undersea - consisting of 440km from Peterhead to Drax (273 miles) and 176km offshore from Torness to Hawthorn Pit (109.3miles).
- Sealink 1 - Estimated Cost: £1.2Billion, Capacity: 2GW, Mileage: 130km offshore, 80.7 miles - Link will connect Sizewell to Kent.
- The total mileage of undersea cabling off Scotland/north of England is around 860 miles.
- Hence, the scale of undersea cabling already agreed is 10:1 in favour of Scotland/North of England, despite the huge importance of East Anglia’s offshore wind farms, and the great and growing impact of densely concentrated onshore infrastructure.
Ultimately, the costs of these projects progressing in Scotland and the north will be met by electricity consumers through their electricity bills. That is bill payers across the UK and my constituency who are helping to fund these offshore projects elsewhere, whilst having to deal with the impact of onshore infrastructure.
Above all else, all we want is a fair share of the funding, and a fair deal for East Anglia. I will continue to make this point for my constituents.