Cllr Kevin Pressland: Minster converter – a different approach is possible

National Grid wants to build a converter station on these wetlands at Minster Photo Nik Mitchell

Green Councillor Kevin Pressland is a passionate campaigner for nature and the natural environment.  His understanding of the threats faced by the natural world is based on expertise gained from a 40-year career in horticulture, garden design and sustainable land management.

People may or may not be aware of the latest ‘State of Nature Report 2023’ this continues to show biodiversity decline of birds, insects, mammals etc as did the 2013, 2016 and 2019 previous state of nature reports.

The Minster Marsh National Grid Converter and the associated pylons and groundwork will, I believe, destroy habitat of many species including IUCN red listed species example curlew, woodcock and major declining species like turtle doves, skylark, nightingales, raven. These will likely be lost.

Whilst there are mitigation measures my opinion is that the works will damage irreparably this site for multitudes of species. The site of special scientific interest will be impacted. Many SSSI’s in the UK have been damaged by development in the last decade and before. UK biodiversity is in major decline a seventh of species is heading for extinction and 43% are severely declining.

A diverse planet is intrinsic to a healthy vibrant, beautiful planet and if we really care for future generations of humans, we should act to retain diversity of species.

We do not live in a bubble away from nature, nature’s services enable us to have economies as Tony Juniper’s book ‘What Has Nature Ever Done for Us’ a mindful provoking read clearly shows, its full of facts and realities of the services nature provides for us, which we are increasingly jeopardising.

Yes, we need forms of renewable energy, but in what way and how these are implemented should be a key factor in achieving this energy requirement because we are in both a climate change and ecological crisis emergency (the two are intrinsically linked).

Local production for local consumption should be the first port of call, for example solar panels on all new builds, domestic or commercial, with additional energy produced going to sub stations supplying local industrial complexes and reducing voltage drop loss.

Yes, we need larger renewable complexes like the wind arrays of the coast etc and clearly these need to be transported to larger industrial complexes or cities to add to energy production. These larger energy suppliers should add to energy produced locally allowing people to have increasing control of the energy production away from being beholden to large energy producing conglomerates.

It cannot be right that the interests of corporate energy providers financial returns trump the interests of the public. Big energy companies do not want energy production on properties, that’s why government continue to kick the can down the road on mandatory renewables on all new builds whether it be air source heat pumps, photovoltaic panels. Ironically a mandatory regulation could boost local economies and skillsets throughout the UK and beyond.

We also need to see proper full systems thinking as the default position on all manufacturing so the issues of waste are genuinely addressed. Nature does not waste and nor should we, we need to learn and learn quickly from nature. This can only happen through governments really governing.

The likely party to win the next election sadly appears not that much better, its obsessed with growth. Our current growth models are not conducive to living within the constraints of this planet’s ability to survive in its current diversity and health.

The Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC an intergovernmental body of the United Nations) and highly respected figures in future economic modelling like Richard Douthwaite book ‘The Growth Illusion’ and Tim Jackson book ‘Prosperity Without Growth’ clearly show a different approach is seriously needed and how this could be achieved.

Please contact National Grid and your MP on the Minster marsh converter proposal and express your feelings on this matter before 18/12/2023. There are alternatives to the proposed approach.

Apparently, an offshore approach is feasible and would reduce impacts to nature, but would cost National Grid financially more initially, but not in the long term. Please demand a different approach and save Minster marshes.

7 Comments

  1. Good article. The central point is that the best site for solar panels is on our roofs! Immediately supplying emergy to where we use it–in our own homes.
    Governments should be subsidising upgrades to home insulation and roof solar panels.

    But this goverment seems to prefer to have centrally-generated electricity in nuclear power stations or in huge solar panel farms, like the proposed 180-acre solar farm on Ash Levels just over the Stour from Minster marshes. So TWO fabulous areas for eildlife will be trashed just in the next few years.
    In effect, the government had a choice. Support the local citizens or support big energy companies and landowners.
    They chose to support the big energy corporations and we, the citizens, will carry on having to pay them for the electricity we could be producing ourselves.

  2. I’m always amazed at how many councillors harp on about nature and wildlife protection.Have any of you ever driven from London to Thanet.When you reach Thanet on the A299 the litter in the grass verges increases tenfold.Bed mattresses,skip bags,polythene sheeting,tarpaulins,a car roof,chairs along with all the bottles,beer cans,food packaging,cigarette packets etc.So much for the care of wildlife.It looks like the entrance to a rubbish dump.Shame on the Councillors.Get the basics right.

  3. This seems to be the worst sort of Nimbyism, we all want a greener better world, but we don’t want to pay the price of renewables. 180 wind turbines were stopped on London array because of the threat to a red warbler, we won’t have the converter station because of a threat to a newt or something else, then we will complain when the government gives oil exploration licences because we don’t want that either. I don’t want to go back to the dark ages and live in a cave, make some difficult choices, don’t just be a naysayer.

  4. I fully agree with you John, the “ oh let’s go green darlings” are hugging the trees while in the real world millions are hugging hot water bottled and blankets to try and keep warm. In Norway our heat pump ( 3 years old) breaks down more often than it’s working so we burn logs on 3 log burners to keep a 6 bed house warm. It’s not unusual to wait 3/4 months for heat pump engineers to get around to calling because so many people have heat pumps breaking down.

  5. As a former Central Electricity Board Engineer, I remember when a Converter station was built in Sellinge, near Folkestone about 40 years ago. It could use French electricity due to the time difference between the countries, but it should be remembered at that time about 80% of French power was generated by nuclear power stations!

    Many years ago when I was one of a number of assistant Civil Engineers to the Chief Civil Engineer building the oil fired power station on the Isle of Grain, we had a national emergency when Gulf oil cost 4 times more than when the first spade went into the ground, due to the Arab/Israeli war in the 70’s. It was decided to build 5 nuclear power stations a year instead, because North Sea oil could not be used on oil fired power stations! I moved on promotion to nuclear power stations, and some of my colleagues moved into Pumped Water power stations, then under construction. These work similarly to hydro electric power stations, but use the same water over and over again. Three were built in Britain, and there are some 200 world wide.

    They take advantage of waste electricity that is generated at night, but not used, I haven’t checked, but at one time this used to be in the region of about 30% to 40%. Its the only way electricity can be stored! I tried once to get the Green party interested in this form of power generation, but no one seemed to understand what I was talking about, or didn’t want to know as it didn’t fit their game plan! So, there you are, Britain has a surplus of electricity at night, which is generated but not used, unless its used in a Pumped Water Storage system, but successive governments are not interested in building them I wonder why?

    • Maybe a shortage os suitable locations? Such schemes couldn’t be implemented anywhere in the SE, for example.

    • Thank you for this comment on Kevin Pressland’s excellent article. I encourage you to watch this week’s TDC full council meeting

      I will take your point about Pumped Water power stations back to the Green Party. Perhaps they didn’t have the understanding then, that I hope they have by now.

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