Since 2020 I have campaigned for an offshore grid, off the cost of East Anglia: supporting our fantastic offshore wind and its contribution to UK energy security, whilst reducing the potential damage to our countryside from pylons. I was therefore shocked when National Grid proposed a set of new pylons across Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk – known as ‘Norwich to Tilbury’ – with no meaningful choice for my constituents, and no serious consideration of offshore options.
I therefore campaigned with my Parliamentary colleagues, forming a group called the ‘OFFSET’ – Offshore Electricity Transmission Taskforce - with the aim to force a fairer deal for my constituents. I have always accepted that National Grid are entitled to consider the full range of options, but that this must include offshore cabling as well, fairly weighed in the balance. As such, I was delighted when ESO announced an independent review of offshore options for East Anglia.
ESO review latest
At Sudbury Town Hall in December, I was taken through the range of ‘top level’ options being considered by ESO, varying from the status quo, through to hybrid onshore/offshore and largely offshore. Last week a similar set of maps were presented to OffSET MPs in Parliament.
As promised by ESO, there is definitely at least one option that will have minimal new onshore infrastructure and no new pylons.
This is very encouraging. ESO will now be working up the costings of the various alternatives. Of course, all other things being equal offshore transmission can appear on the face of it more costly than pylons. However, as I have long stressed, National Grid have spent billions on offshore transmission in the North and Scotland. Thus, it is important that such cost estimates will be ‘benchmarked’ against other transmission in the rest of the UK. After all, what we want above all is a fair deal, with Suffolk getting its share of expenditure on offshore transmission.
We expect the final results from ESO in March, and I will be writing to National Grid with colleagues to ask that whatever happens next, my constituents get a meaningful chance to have their say, and to be properly consulted.