Joanna Lumley raises concerns over offshore wind farm plans in joint letter

Actor Ralph Fiennes and Griff Rhys Jones are also among the 17 signatories.

28 February 2022

Dame Joanna Lumley has warned in a joint letter to a national newspaper that two planned wind farms off the Suffolk coast could see an area of beautiful countryside “disappear under a sea of concrete”.

Actor Ralph Fiennes, who was born in Suffolk, and Griff Rhys Jones, who has a home in the county, are also among the 17 signatories to the letter published in The Times on Monday.

ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) said its planned East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO offshore wind farms would generate enough electricity to power more than 1.4 million UK households.

Underground cables would transport the electricity to onshore substations, with decisions on whether to grant development consent to the two applications due by March 31.

The letter said: “A vast tract of Suffolk’s most beautiful countryside is slated to disappear under a sea of concrete with ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) and National Grid’s destructive plans to build potentially the largest onshore energy hub in Europe.

“National Grid failed to present the true scale of their projects to the Planning Inspectorate.

“The energy minister’s imminent decision on East Anglia ONE North (EA1N) and East Anglia TWO (EA2) will enable six further towering structures, sacrificing land at Snape, close to the 6th-century Anglo Saxon cemetery and home of Benjamin Britten’s Snape Maltings Concert Hall.

The Maltings at Snape
The Maltings at Snape (PA)

“A split decision is suggested, to continue building wind turbines but to pivot to offshore integrated cabling to brownfield sites.

“SPR and National Grid covetously call Suffolk’s heritage coast ‘the energy coast’.

“They threaten fragile ecosystems, diverse wildlife, Aldeburgh and the thriving local tourist economy.

“Planned industrialisation on this scale is a national issue and anything but green.”

Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The two proposed wind farms would have up to 142 turbines in total and power would come to shore in the Thorpeness area.

A spokesperson for ScottishPower Renewables said: “As a responsible developer, we’ve undertaken significant consultation and engagement with local stakeholders and communities on our East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO projects.

“We’ve continued to listen to local communities and stakeholders and take account of their feedback, adapting designs accordingly.

“This extends to our considered efforts to protect the local environment and minimise the potential onshore impacts of the construction programme.”

Griff Rhys Jones
Griff Rhys Jones (Andrew Matthews/PA)

They added that the projects have the “potential to support thousands of jobs during construction, create long-term skilled jobs, support the local and UK supply chain, deliver community benefits and play an important role in meeting the Government’s offshore wind ambitions and helping tackle the climate emergency”.

The East Anglia ONE project, with up to 240 turbines, was given the green light by the Government in 2014, and East Anglia THREE, with up to 172 turbines, was approved in 2017.

Earlier this month, the Energy Secretary approved a wind farm development off the Norfolk coast, ruling that the need for renewable energy outweighs concern over the “substantial harm arising from landscape and visual issues”.

Vattenfall’s 1.8-gigawatt Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm will have up to 158 turbines.

Vatenfall said that, together with the Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm that was awarded planning consent in December, it will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 3.9 million UK homes.

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