How new energy infrastructure could affect East of England

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By Ben Parker,BBC News, East of England

PA Media Pylons with a blue sky behindPA Media

A 112-mile stretch of pylons is proposed for East Anglia

New offshore wind, nuclear and solar power projects are all planned for the East of England, but how will that energy be transported elsewhere?

A network of pylons and underground and undersea cables have been proposed.

National Grid says the electricity network in East Anglia “doesn’t have the capability needed to reliably and securely transport all the energy that will be connected by 2030”.

Campaigners say the plans will impact small villages and the tourism sector.

Nearly 20 windfarms are planned or are already functioning off the coast.

A new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk is awaiting a final investment decision, but has development consent.

The BBC looks at how these projects could affect the region.

Norwich to Tilbury pylons

Map of East Anglia showing proposed pylon route

National Grid wants to build a 112 mile-long (180km) power line from Norwich to Tilbury in Essex.

Some want the cable line to be built out at sea, but that is likely to be much more expensive in the short term.

Andrew Woodger/BBC  Sign saying "No more pylons, bury not blight" with a pylon in the backgroundAndrew Woodger/BBC

Some campaigners want underground cables to be preferred over pylons

National Grid has previously said that “every penny we spend appears on consumers’ bills”.

A statutory consultation on the plans is due in 2024.

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LionLink

Charlotte Webb/National Grid Aerial view of windfarms out at seaCharlotte Webb/National Grid

LionLink would connect offshore windfarms and transfer electricity between the UK and the Netherlands

National Grid wants cables to reach land at either Walberswick or Southwold.

A converter station would be built on the outskirts of Saxmundham and could cover a six-hectare area.

That would then connect to a substation being built at the village of Friston.

Suffolk County Council has called the plans “unacceptable and unfair”.

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Sea Link

Suffolk and Kent would be connected by Sea Link if the 90-mile (145km) electricity infrastructure project is given the go ahead.

National Grid says the project is needed to create “a more secure and resilient energy system”.

It would also include some onshore stations and connect to the Friston substation and Saxmundham converter station.

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Tarchon Energy interconnector

This would create an energy connection between Essex and Germany.

Tarchon Energy says it would allow surplus renewable energy to be exported in both directions.

A planning application is unlikely to be submitted until 2026.

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Nautilus Interconnector

A similar idea, this time between Suffolk and Belgium.

It would feature an offshore converter station, along with infrastructure at either end.

National Grid says this project could be moved to Kent.

In March 2024, The Electricity System Operator (ESO) published a report into how best to upgrade the energy grid in East Anglia.

It warned that “critical trade-offs will need to be made” and no single option would provide value for money, be easy to deliver – or minimise the impact on communities.

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