Villagers have united to oppose the “needless blitzing” of habitats and communities
Villagers have united to oppose the “needless blitzing” of habitats and communities threatened by a 112 mile stretch of pylons in the countryside.
Residents in Ardleigh, Essex, fear their village will be torn apart by several 164ft pylons which National Grid plans to build to transport green power across East Anglia.
The plans include substations, set to be the size of 11 football pitches, which would take up valuable farmland.
Rosie Pearson, the founder of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk Pylons campaign group, warned the experiences of locals is “just one small part of the Great Grid Fiasco”
She said: “The people of Ardleigh spoke eloquently to the Express about the loss of habitat and wildlife and beautiful views, the threat to heritage assets, the risk to their health and the blight on their houses and businesses.
“They are just one small part of the Great Grid Fiasco which is wreaking havoc in East Anglia, not only with the pylons proposal in the heart of the region but also around the beautiful coastlines of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.
“An offshore grid is long overdue.”
Nearly 27,000 people signed a petition urging energy bosses to instead build an offshore grid and avoid crisscrossing the land with cables.
Energy policymakers have recommended lump-sum payments to locals living near transmission lines.
But retired filmmaker Christopher Hamblin called it a “ludicrous idea” that the villagers’ problems with the pylons could be solved by paying them money.
The Ardleigh resident, 85, said: “First of all, it would be extremely difficult to put a monetary value on quality of life. Secondly, it’s a very short term thing. It means people are being asked to accept a bribe to allow the desecration of something that is lost forever or ruined for future generations.
“It’s actually completely immoral.”
A local resident flew two red balloons above a field to highlight the height of the proposed metal towers which will carry electricity to London.
READ MORE: Pylon hell to descend on Britain – map shows where 90,000 new units could go up [UK]
CAMPAIGNERS IN THE FIELD WHERE THE PROPOSED PYLON IS TO BE BUILT
Tim Barrott, chair of the parish council, said: “People are currently unable to sell houses in Ardleigh because of the pylons. People are coming to look at houses and the first question is ‘where are the pylons going?’.
The 65-year-old added: “We’ve had quite a number of transactions fall through because lenders will not lend because they are concerned if they give a big mortgage, and pylons go close to the house, their equity has gone.
“Houses are impossible to sell at the moment.
“We’ve also had parents of very young children take them out of primary school because there will be at least three pylons behind it. Even though, if the pylons go ahead, they are several years away. But it’s the younger ones who are being moved to other schools.”
Jayne Marshall, 61, said the impact of the proposals on people’s mental and physical health were serious.
She said: “[National Grid] has not, in any way shape or form, taken into fact the extra cost to the NHS from people along the route suffering from mental health issues or indeed physical issues [as a result of the pylons].
“We’ve not long been out of lockdown.The pandemic screwed a lot of people up and this could be the straw that broke the donkey’s back.”
More than a dozen residents in Ardleigh who spoke with the Express all backed the country’s transition to net zero, with some installing solar panels and driving electric vehicles.
But they condemned National Grid’ approach, which has included two consultations, and disregard for locals’ concerns.
The Government has committed to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an ambition to connect 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030 – enough energy to power every home in the country.
To achieve this, offshore wind is being developed at scale and around 60 per cent of the current offshore wind projects will come ashore along the East Coast.
National Grid said new nuclear generation proposed at Sizewell C and greater interconnection with countries across the North Sea means there will be a “significant increase” in renewable and low carbon electricity generation connecting in East Anglia.
National Grid has been contacted for a comment.
AERIAL VIEW OF THE FIELD WHERE THE PROPOSED PYLON IS TO BE BUILT
VIEW FROM THE LOCAL SCHOOL (BALLOONS IN MARKED CIRCLE DEPICT HEIGHT OF PROPOSED PYLON)
It was hardly surprising that villagers turned up en masse to share their stories with The Express in Ardleigh.
Ardleigh is just one village on the 180km Norwich to Tilbury pylons route and all the issues East Anglia is facing with transmission infrastructure are rolled into one here.
This one village will see 50m high pylons, a 120m wide trench, up to four substations and further trenches for two wind farms and an interconnector (a cable between two countries).
The most poignant thing to see in Ardleigh was a beautiful oak tree, thought to be 300 years old, which stands in the way of the Great Grid Upgrade.
It is symbolic of all the thousands of trees, hedgerows and woodlands along the route of the pylons which will be destroyed.
This blitzing of habitats is needless.
National Grid, instead of thinking of ‘Norwich to Tilbury’, needs to think in terms of the North Sea to Tilbury. The power is generated offshore, by North Sea wind farms.
Currently, National Grid offers each wind farm and each interconnector a connection a long way inland. Instead it must create an offshore grid which keeps the wind power offshore – bringing it onshore where it is needed, in London and the south.
National Grid’s sister company, National Grid Electricity Systems Operator, has set out the benefits of an offshore grid.
It is cheaper, by £2 billion for the East of England.
It is better for the environment and communities, because it reduces overall infrastructure by 50 per cent.
And it offers system resilience and security benefits.
26,500 people have signed our petition saying no to the pylons and yes to an offshore grid. An offshore grid is supported by all of the region’s MPs and all of the local authorities and county councils.
Yet this offshore grid option, which brings no downsides and only benefits, is being persistently ignored by National Grid as they pursue their pylons project.
In our survey this summer, which 1,100 people completed, 99 per cent told us that they do not feel that National Grid has taken on board calls for an integrated offshore grid and 92% feel strongly that National Grid is deliberately ignoring the benefits of an integrated offshore grid.
Instead, National Grid has put together a strawman proposal which is not an offshore grid and is deliberately as expensive as possible, so that the pylons appear cheaper.
The people of Ardleigh spoke eloquently about the loss of habitat and wildlife and beautiful views, the threat to heritage assets, the risk to their health and the blight on their houses and businesses.
They are just one small part of the Great Grid Fiasco which is wreaking havoc in East Anglia, not only with the pylons proposal in the heart of the region but also around the beautiful coastlines of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire. An offshore grid is long overdue.
‘I wanted to live by an oak tree and they’re proposing to cut my oak tree down’
ALISON TOOTAL IN HER BACK GARDEN WITH AN ANCIENT OAK TREE THAT MIGHT BE CUT DOWN
Alison Tootal has warned her beloved 300-year-old oak tree will need to be chopped down to make way for a pylon if proposals go ahead.
Her husband Christopher bought the field to protect the oak tree in Ardleigh, Essex, decades ago.
Alison said they bought the land around the tree around 25 years ago to “protect it from being ploughed” and to create a wildflower meadow surrounding it.
She added: “We have run sheep in there, made hay and run it as an environmental project.
“They’re planning to put a pylon right beside the tree. They want to cut down the tree.”
She said it makes her feel “desperately upset”.
Alison added: “It’s a beautiful tree.It means everything to me. Why would you go and spend money buying a bit of a field to protect a tree if you didn’t care about it?”
“I wanted to live by an oak tree and they’re proposing to cut my oak tree down.”
Local resident James Blyth, 69, told how his grandfather and a timber merchant helped save the tree from being destroyed during the second world war.
James’s family owned the land before selling it to the Tootal’s.
He said: “My grandfather and a timber merchant had been seconded in the second world war to find oak trees.
“They decided that that tree was too fine a tree to cut down and now [National Grid] wants to come along and cast it to one side.”
‘If this whole construction scheme is going to take upwards of five to 10 years, it means everyone is going to be in limbo for that period of time’
Phillip and Linda Reeve face the possibility of up to four substations being built on land nearby their home in Essex.
The couple has spent the last two decades transforming part of their their five-acre plot in Ardleigh into a “wildlife sanctuary”
Philip, 70, told how kestrels, buzzards, badger, fox and deer have visited the land while an array of amphibians have made a lake on the land their home.
He said: “We’ve done a lot which is a pleasure. I’m being told that none of this [the substations] will interfere with the wildlife. That’s rubbish. They’re noise sensitive. They’re light sensitive. This is just going to drive them away.”
Philip told how the pylon proposals will threaten high grade agricultural land at a time when the nation’s food security is in sharp focus.
He is also concerned about the impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty nearby.
Philip has concerns that house sales will stall in the area as people wait to see the outcome of consultations and National Grid plans.
He said: “If this whole construction scheme is going to take upwards of five to 10 years, it means everyone is going to be in limbo for that period of time. It really doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Philip and Linda Reeve
‘A lot of grain comes from Russia and indeed the Ukraine. We can’t cut off our self-sufficiency’
Farmer Jayne Marshall has concerns about the possible impact of pylons on her husband Bruce who has a pacemaker.
The couple’s farm in Ardleigh, Essex, would see pylons built in three of their fields if proposals go ahead.
Jayne, 61, said: “If you live within 75m of it, then it does have health implications to the greatest extent, obviously the health indications are still in effect further down the line.
“My husband has got a pacemaker. You’ve got the risk of people at child-bearing age. I looked into the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report on pylons and it has had an effect.
“And also those people with other metal implants. It has been known to re-align them in the body.”
The WHO reported that electromagnetic fields (EMF) can cause some pacemakers to operate abnormally.
It stated that some types of artificial medical devices that have been implanted in humans may become misaligned within a person’s body as EMF’s may create torque pressure against certain types of metal.
Jayne, who farms arable crops on the land, also showed concern for the nation’s food security amid the war in Ukraine.
She said: “We’ve currently got a situation between Russia and Ukraine where there have been embargoes in place regarding exportation of crops.
“A lot of grain comes from Russia and indeed the Ukraine. We can’t cut off our self-sufficiency. We’ve got to remain as self-sufficient as possible.”
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This notice was published: 2023-08-29 14:02:00