The online Planning Inspectorate hearings into the Scottish Power Renewables’ proposal for huge substations at Friston and the associated cabling corridor from Thorpeness continued last week. If approved the applications would have a devastating impact on the local area including elements of the AONB. I continue to suggest alternatives, such as the nuclear brownfield site at Bradwell, as I think it best not to solely oppose proposals, especially in light of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that he wants 40GW of offshore wind electricity by 2030 - up from 30GW in our manifesto commitment. That lends itself to a radical rethink of electricity connectivity. Along with Parliamentary colleagues, I’ve been lobbying the Energy Minister who recently announced a review into how offshore energy firms bring their electricity back onshore. In light of this, I strongly suggested at the hearing that the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State should be considering the cumulative impact of other energy proposals as part of this application. We need more integrated connections rather than looking at onshore infrastructure in isolation. SPR have also already agreed to build a Scotland to England superhighway of undersea cabling, which they could also do here. Bringing the electricity onshore closer to population centres, rather than in rural Suffolk. I’ll keep fighting on this.
Late last week, I attended a briefing by the Chief Executives of Ipswich Hospital and our local NHS Commissioning Group, Nick Hulme and Ed Garratt. Whilst infections rates are falling across the county, especially here in East Suffolk, the number of patients being admitted to hospital with coronavirus is rising. Admission testing is also identifying people coming in for other treatments as having Covid too, which is presenting its own challenges, as the subsequent rearrangement of patients is then needed to help control the transmission. Although the tiers will be reviewed next week, the fact that the number of hospital admissions is rising makes me less confident about us moving out of Tier 2 before Christmas. That underlines the need for us to keep working together, adhering to the basics of hands, face and space. If we do, then I hope it won’t be too long before we’re in the Tier with the least amount of restrictions.
I know this year has been really tough, but as this is my last column of 2020, I’d like to wish all East Suffolk Extra readers a very Merry Christmas. It’s my profound hope that 2021 brings much more normality to our lives.