Readers’ amazing support for EDP’s Say No To Pylons on Broads campaign
06:30 17 December 2012
Archant © 2011
It is a campaign that has galvanised the whole community from schoolchildren to pensioners who have lived in the Broads all their life.
The postbag from readers backing our Say No To Pylons stand should send a formidable message to National Grid planners even before they begin drawing up detailed plans on how to bring power ashore from the giant East Anglia One windfarm to be built off the Suffolk coast.
EDP editor Nigel Pickover describes the early response from readers as “amazing”, but warns that it is “just the first skirmish in a war we will fight with utter determination and resolve”.
The 557 readers who have so far filled in and sent back Say No To Pylons forms represent a powerful green wave surging across the region and far beyond.
In their comments, they describe the unthinkable spectre of giant pylons running through the Waveney and Yare valleys as “ludicrous”, “disastrous” and a “blot on the landscape”.
The Ruddick family from Lowestoft eloquently sum up the feelings of many when they write: “This small land has so few untouched landscapes, don’t spoil what we have for generations to come.”
National Grid has said route options for the power line, including details of which sections might go underground, will be published for public consultation next summer.
Its spokesman said at this early stage of investigations, it was not even possible to say whether it would be National Grid or the consortium developing the windfarm (East Anglian Offshore Wind) that would decide on and build the connection.
The uncertainty, which has left Broads lovers guessing which areas of the Waveney and Yare valleys might be under threat from pylons, is a frustration for the leader of South Norfolk Council, John Fuller.
He said: “You would have thought who was going to build it would have been determined when the licence was awarded.
“We are going to have to make a business case to have the cables buried - that is what our residents would expect - and we want to know who to negotiate with.”
He confirmed South Norfolk Council was in the process of setting up a meeting with officials from East Anglian Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Vattenfall and ScottishPower Renewables.
He said: “We want to impress on them the depth of our concerns and our hunger for information.
“It is important that the sort of concerns raised by your readers are taken into account at the outset. We can help identify some of the obvious concerns and help National Grid shape a much more efficient public consultation.”
The Broads Society, an influential group set up to champion the interests of the Broads, is forming a special sub-committee to draw up battle plans against the threat of pylons.
Society chairman Robin Godber said: “We have campaigned for a long time to have pylons taken down, not put up, and there have been some notable successes, for example around St Benet’s Abbey.
“Now this has reared its ugly head we are certainly going to fight it and we will plan our campaign in co-ordination with everyone else.”
He said the feasibility of underground cables was underlined by the fact that the windfarm developers were choosing that as the preferred option on an earlier phase of the scheme further south, on a line running from Bawdsey to Bramford, in Suffolk.
Mr Godber, who is also chairman of the society’s Southern Broads committee, said: “It is not just the environment side. Putting up unsightly pylons would affect the whole economy.
“The southern rivers are the most unspoilt part of the Broads and as a society we have been drawing up plans to revitalise the tourism economy there.”
He questioned why power from the windfarm could not be brought ashore further south where pylons already existed, or even plugged in at Sizewell.
The EDP’s campaign has resonated with every sector of society from tourism leaders anxious to safeguard the £469m visitors bring to the Broads each year to artists and conservationists.
EDP tourism award winner James Knight, who runs Waveney River Centre at Burgh St Peter with his wife Ruth, said: “Part of what we sell is the beautiful big Norfolk sky, the open landscape and the chance to step back in time and get back to nature.
“At the moment, if you are in your holiday lodge or on our campsite, there are marshes as far as the eye can see – the march of high voltage cables across them would spoil the experience.”
Renowned Broads artist David Dane said it would be sacrilege to put up pylons and described the Waveney Valley as having “a real atmosphere all of its own”.
“Many an evening I have moored up on the river bank and it like going back 150 years. Nothing tells you that you are living in the 21st century. Giant pylons would immediately announce the fact. One of the great prizes of the Broads is its timeless quality,” he said.