Meeting to be held over National Grid plans to build converter station at Minster marshes in the Stour Valley

Proposed converter site Photo Nik Mitchell

A meeting hosted by Thanet Green Party will be held next week to discuss what action can be taken over National Grid plans  to build a 60,000 square metre (6 hectares) onshore converter station at Minster marshes in the Stour Valley.

The Sea Link project, which campaigners say will have a huge impact on the area’s wildlife, involves creating a subsea electricity cable between Suffolk and Kent which National Grid says will help deliver the UK’s energy security strategy and net zero targets.

The proposals outline a preferred route of 10km of onshore and 140km of undersea cables, together with potential landfall and converter station locations at Friston substation in Suffolk and at Richborough.

National Grid’s preferred route runs from a landfall in Pegwell Bay to a proposed converter station site and high voltage pylons over the land to the south of Minster.

 

A non-statutory consultation took place on the plans last year with dates for a further public consultation due to be announced soon.

Permission has also been granted for ‘large scale’ development of an electricity grid facility with cables going through a ‘vital wildlife corridor’ between Minster Marshes and Pegwell Bay.

The development will include four buildings, compensators, electrical infrastructure, underground cabling, access tracks, drainage, fencing and two bridges over the Minster stream.

The application was submitted by a subsidiary of Transmission Investment and approved in August.

TI ProjectCo 2 said the development is needed “to stabilise the local grid network, ensuring that a stable voltage is maintained, and electrical transmission is unaffected.”

The grid facility will be in the middle of a field adjacent to the Weatherlees water treatment works and is in the  Sandwich Bay to Hacklinge Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); adjacent to Ash Level and South Richborough Pasture Local Wildlife Site and within 1km of Sandwich and Pegwell Bay nature reserve.

It will consist of four buildings – two compensator buildings, a gas insulated switchgear building and an amenity building -five main transformers, 400kV switchgear, busbars, cabling, a cooling system, security fencing, internal access roads and drainage. A platform for the development will be approximately 1.6ha and will be levelled.

The compensator buildings will measure 81.8m by 22.5m with a height of 10m and 59.6m by 22.6m with a height of 10m.

The Gas Insulated Switchgear building shall be 22.8m by 13.9m with a height of 13.5m. The amenity building will be 12.55m by 10.3m with a height of 6m. A 3m high fence will enclose the site and CCTV and flood lights will also be installed.

Photo Nik Mitchell

Two bridges crossing Minster Stream will be built. Temporary roads outside of the main site will be removed following the completion of construction.

400kV cables will be installed underground between the platform and the national grid substation at Richborough. The cables will be installed using trenches, ducting, cable bridges and horizontal directional drilling.

Horizontal directional drilling will be used to install the cables underneath the SSSI.

But a campaign is running to challenge the developments with concerns raised over the impact on the SSSI and the rich wildlife population.

Coring work on site Photo Nik Mitchell

Resident Kerry Hogben has raised a petition against the National Grid  plans and some 5,000 people have signed.

On the petition page Kerry says: “Minster marshes is a critical ecological super highway connecting a site of special scientific interest with the rest of the country. It is home to hundreds of bird species many of which are on the endangered list. The National Grid are proposing to build across this vital landscape devastating the local ecology.

“It is an environmental haven where many species have been forced to live due to the excessive building elsewhere in Thanet. Environmentalist have recently seen species such as barn owls, partridges, skylarks, grasshopper warbler, garden warbler, curlew, golden plover, Lapwings, Hen harrier, Marsh harrier, Yellow hammer, Sparrow hawk ,Jack snipe , Common snipe and turtle doves.

“Additionally living there are numerous reptiles and amphibians including grass snakes and sloe worms. Brown hares and water voles also call this space home.

Load bearing warning barriers now placed on site Photo Nik Mitchell

“National Grid is proposing to use the site to build a huge converter station over 30 meters high covering several hectares. With its additional infrastructure of roads and pylons it will devastate the local ecology having a knock-on effect throughout the south east.

“There are other options available to the National Grid, this isn’t the only available site but it is the cheapest. The only cost will be to our wildlife!”

District councillor Becky Wing (Green) is among those concerned about the plans. She said: “Too much of our prime landscape is being destroyed by residential, commercial and industrial development on farmland and in this case an extremely important wildlife environment, when often alternative brown field and contaminated sites are available. “Sadly, our wildlife and landscapes are paying the price and it simply has to stop.

“The proposed National Grid Sea Link project, which will require a DCO application to the Government, will further impact the Minster Marshes, home to a wide variety of wildlife that are already to be affected by the following applications that TDC has already approved, only one of which went to the Planning Committee: 1. F/TH/23/0170-Grid Stability Facility. 2. F/TH/22/0579-Battery Storage Facility including removal of the turbine. 3. F/TH/23/0093-Lattice Mast Removal.

“Of course we need housing which meets local need and we have to improve our energy infrastructure for the future but present planning legislation means there is no deterrent from using farm or other important environments or encouragement to use brown field and contaminated sites.

Inside a converter station (image National Grid)

“If the Sea Link proposal is approved many of us feel given the cumulative impact of various developments in and around the Minster Marshes, wildlife will have nowhere to go and the loss of land to soak water up, will result in increased flooding. It really is important that residents across Thanet have a look at what is proposed and what is happening in the Minster Marshes.”

The Secretary of State is expected to make a decision on the National Grid proposal in 2025 with construction then taking place, if granted, between 2026 and 2030.

A meeting to discuss the proposals will be held on Tuesday 17th October from 7.30pm at the Baptist Church community space in Queens Road, Broadstairs.

Further meetings are being planned for Ramsgate and Minster.

A campaign page Save Minster Marshes has been set up by resident George Cooper on facebook  Find Save Minster Marshes here

Find the National Grid plans on its website here and on the Planning Inspectorate site here

The petition against the plans can be found here

4 Comments

  1. Far better to run the cables up the hill to the abandoned Manston site, and build the things there.
    Irrespective of environmental impact, global warming will see sea rises and flooding of those marshes in the next few decades.

  2. We could always just build a factory that makes candles providing heat and light returning back to the Dickens era somewhere near Broadstairs.

  3. Thing is, is probably the people who drive electric cars that are moaning about this ! You are the reason this needs doing to prove you with electric for your 2ton electric cars !

    • You are correct.
      It’s a big enough task trying to replace existing conventional power stations with renewable, without adding hugely to the load by adding in millions of electric cars.

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