National Grid updates Sea Link project with height increase to converter station at Minster marshes

National Grid plans on display at a drop-in event Photo Ruth Brackstone Bailey

National Grid has updated its plans for its Sea Link project and proposes an increase in height of a 90,000 square metre  onshore converter station at Minster marshes in the Stour Valley.

The Sea Link project 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.

The converter station, which will be up to 28 m high plus external equipment -such as lightning protection, safety rails for maintenance works, ventilation equipment, aerials, and similar small scale operational plant, or other roof treatment- will also a new substation immediately adjacent.

The company says that following statutory consultation between October and December 2023 and reviewing the feedback a series of changes have been made to the proposals.

The changes to the Kent end of the project include an increase of the overall maximum height of the converter station, confirmation of the type of pylon to be used for the connection to the existing overhead line, and identifying a further construction and maintenance access route off Sandwich Road via the former hoverport.

National Grid is also proposing various other changes to construction and maintenance access routes, compounds, and temporary overhead line diversions, and has identified additional land for environmental mitigation and enhancement.

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

What has changed?

Permanent infrastructure HVDC cable route

Realigned high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable route near the A256 to avoid existing buried water infrastructure in this area. The use of trenchless crossing technology to reduce the impact of construction activity on road users.

Converter station height

Following more detailed design work after completing site surveys, National Grid is proposing to increase the ground level at the converter site around the converter station height by constructing a stone platform of up to two metres. The work may need to involve installing modular columns, which are underground concrete supports approximately 20 metres deep that help to spread the weight of buildings above, or by piling into the bedrock below. The approach taken will depend on ongoing and future detailed survey work.

The maximum height of the converter station buildings themselves would not change. However, as these structures would now be on a raised platform, the maximum total height will now be 28 metres rather than 26 metres.

Location and type of new pylons

Of the options consulted on previously, National Grid is confirming the use of full-height (approximately 50 metre) lattice pylons for the connection between the proposed combined converter station/substation and the Richborough to Canterbury 400 kV overhead line.

This means there would be fewer new pylons in total when compared to the low-height pylon option.

The location of the pylons now reduces the size of the triangular area that would be formed by the construction of pylons between the existing overhead line and the proposed substation. This aims to reduce the risk that birds could become trapped in between the new and existing overhead lines, but would result in an increase of approximately 1.2 km in the total length of new overhead line compared to original proposals at statutory consultation.

Minster Marshes Photo Nik Mitchell

Further consultation

Between now and 11 August, consultees will be able to provide feedback on the changes, or on the proposals more generally, to the team via email or by Freepost.

A newsletter has been sent to around 36,000 addresses in the area with information on how to find out more about the alterations to the proposed project.

The project website is also updated and National Grid will be making paper copies of the consultation materials available at deposit points.

There will also be webinars and a series of parish council online briefings this month.

Archaeological surveys started yesterday (July 8) as part of an ongoing programme of technical and environmental assessments. The work will involve using a digger to remove the topsoil, usually around 30-60 centimetres deep, in trenches between 30 and 50 metres long.

Once the machines have removed the topsoil, archaeologists will photograph and take note of any archaeological features in the trench. Details can be found at nationalgrid.com/sealink.

Rethink Sea Link

Kent Wildlife Trust launched a campaign calling on the National Grid to “Rethink Sea Link” and avoid the proposed route which causes the most environmental impact.

Conservationists and campaigners, such as the Save Minster Marshes group, are concerned the project  will cause disturbance to wildlife at the internationally important National Nature Reserve Pegwell Bay and surrounding nature sites.

Join a webinar

A pre-recorded webinar is available to view on the project website (link above). It covers the latest changes to the Sea Link Project across Suffolk, Kent and offshore.

There will also be live webinars where the project team will present a brief overview of the proposals plus the latest changes to the plans.

Webinar on Tuesday 16 July, 6:30pm-7:45pm. Proposals in Kent and marine proposals

Monday 22 July, 6:30pm-7:45pm Proposals in Kent and marine proposals. Sign up to join via the web address above.

Paper copies

Paper copies of consultation material available at the following locations between Monday 8 July and Sunday 11 August at:

  • Ash Library 11 Queen’s Rd, Ash, Canterbury
  • Minster Library 4a Monkton Rd, Minster,
  • Sandwich Library 13 Market St, Sandwich
  • Ramsgate Library Guildford Lawn, Ramsgate
  • Newington Library Royal Harbour Academy, Stirling Way, Ramsgate
  • Margate Library Cecil Street, Margate,

Feedback – submit comments by 23:59 on 11 August.

Email: [email protected]

Write to: FREEPOST Sea Link

Timeline

The Sea Link project needs to obtain a development consent order (DCO) via an application to the Planning Inspectorate.

The development consent being sought will include a number of other provisions, including those which authorise the compulsory acquisition of land, and the compulsory acquisition of rights in, on or over land, if necessary, to construct, operate and maintain the proposed project.

The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero is expected to make a decision in 2025 with construction then taking place, if granted, between 2026 and 2030.

Campaign

Save Minster Marshes in London

A campaign page Save Minster Marshes has been set up by George Cooper on facebook for those who want to fight the proposals.

Find Save Minster Marshes here

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

Kent Wildlife Trust urges National Grid to ‘Rethink Sea Link’ over concerns of impact on nature

National Grid project to include electricity converter station at Minster marshes

16 Comments

  1. Not far away there’s a huge brownfield site doing nothing at all.
    The underground cable could be extended a km or so, and the converter station built there with no impact on the SSSI nor the wetlands.
    Any inquiries, phone 0800 030 4137

  2. Presumably the buildings are being raised higher because they are being built on marshland that floods every winter. Perhaps they should choose a higher,drier site! Delays to major infrastructure plans don t occur because of pointless “nimbyism “. They occur because corporations and developers choose sites that suit themselves, and then express outrage when local people point out the damage they are doing to the lives of people and wildlife.

  3. The new government are going to push through everything they can as afast as possible, the speech this morning explained that, they’ll do deals with private finance too fast and get poor value for money.
    Of course none of this was explained until after they are in, lots more of similar things to come, just wait for the targets thanet will need to meet for housing.
    Ms. Billingto will be making lots of statements along the lines of
    “The nation needs …….”
    “I voiced my opposition but there’s noth8ng i can do”
    “The money has to be found “
    Etc etc

    • Better to return to tory dodgy deals, austerity, rise in homeless, poor investment, declining national health, no NHS dentists, not being able to get doctor appointments, shoddy housing being built on green spaces, the lies, high tax, and multiple billions of tax payers money being wasted. Ah, the good old days. Even many tory former ministers apologised for being inward, self serving, incompetent idiots that didn’t have a clue how to fix the deep lying problems they created, and wished Kier and Labour well in sorting out the massive unprecedented mess the Tories left behind. Get a grip man, be real.

    • Why on earth do you think knowing they were going to lose a general election they called it when they did, they knew there lowctax promise was a lie, and they were digging a deeper hole of despair for the country. The Tories were lost and couldn’t get out of the pit they dug for themselves and country. Now the grown ups have to make hard decisions to fix over the coming years the Tories couldn’t fix after creating them. All tories know to do is cut, cut and cut some more, I’m in my 6th decade, that is all tory governments do, they know nothing else.

      • They called it because they knew they were finished, the electorate had no faith in them, just as the results show that none other than the party faithful have any faith in labour. UK politics is truly broken.
        Labour will cosy up closer to private money than the tories would have dared, there’ll be a pfi style bonanza with the difference that this time there’ll be effectively no end date to the deals and the country will be permanently in thrall to private entities.
        The deals struck will be awful as a result of labour being desperate to move as fast as possible.
        However they won under the system we have and so they now have their chance to do as they will, i’d expect they’ll do what they can to alter the voter base to try and get a second term , which will be very unlikely otherwise.
        The tories got exactly what they deserved, hopefully they’ll learn from it, once the nation sees how labour will sell us off to private money, the tories will be able to do the same in the future with no criticism.
        We’ll get a fake boost to GDP a huge influx of EU workers to build the 1.5 million homes promised, which won’t be anywhere near enough as the levels of migration into the country will likely change little, and we’ll carry on our decline , just under a flag of a different colour.

        • If you recall, Maggie began the selling off on monumental scale, as for bad deals, you must mean as Boris put it the oven ready deal with the eu he claimed to have that has regressed this country at least a decade, fiscally. Let’s see what Labour do, then judge. Unless you want to carry on using your cloudy crystal ball, in which case, good luck to you.

          • But maggie gave the nation an unprecedented period of prosperity and a can do attitude. Boris was never allowed by the party to follow through onhis vision ( the tories demise has strong roots in the way it cynically took the election on the back of boris and then went about stabbing him, wouldn’t have been quite so bad if they had a plan for after, the electorate were never going to forgive them for such behaviour, party gate was inconsequential)

  4. We need flexibility of electricity supply and we also need wetlands, which reduce global warming. This area will be flooded more over time with expansion of the oceans. Therefore it would make sense to build further back

    • Further: where is the sense of building on land that will be submerged in a few years time. The same applies to the proposals for Swanscombe Marshes in North Kent.

      • Because it won’t be flooded , so long as we don’t rip out our flood defences. Which were built to deal with the sea levels that we know and will continue to know for many decades hence.

  5. Not invented here, you must be a tory denier, a tory forgiver, the facts are there in recent history, we have all lived through it. I truly cannot think of one good thing the Tories did in 14 years, however, following 14 years in power there must be something. Isn’t it a sad situation that I cannot think of one after 14 years of Tory government, there should be much to think of which is a proud achievement but even as I write, still not one. It shows how much damage they have done to the country. Maggie, are you wearing rose tinted glasses, I suggest you rethink, there was a short spell of prosperity, and also a lot of damage still felt today, Boris, oh, where do you start, I wouldn’t trust that loon to run a bath, let alone a country.

    • Merely a difference of opinion, neither of our views will make one jot of difference. The new government won an election fair and square ( but solely on the votes of those such as yourself who are as blind as you believe me to be , to labours defficiencies, why else would they not have setmout the plans they clearly had in the campaign?)
      The tories were put out of their misery and i helped play a tiny part in that, recognising that they were incapable of running the country, but at the same time i recognise that labour are similarly incapable and will leave the nation in a yet worse state. Despite the huge number of seats they won, they really do not have the mandate from the popular vote, which iwill be a bad thing as they’ll be doing everything in too much of a rush as they know they’ll not be repeating the result in 29.
      I sincerely hope i’m wrong, but don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  6. Time will tell, in truth, our entire system of government is antiquated and too much ceremony without enough getting things done. It needs a major shake up. I do not believe I am blind to labour or other parties deficiencies, just a realist without blind loyalty, however we could not have continued on the path the Tories had us on. They all have there faults, in an ideal world, it will take a lot of planning but our entire system, process and design of government needs changing. To serve the nation, not themselves in anyway possible including peerages. It appears we have moved away from this stream subject matter, has Minster flooded yet? We need our own power.

  7. To raise the converter by 2 meters to stop it flooding will require a phenomenal amount of material, 6000 or so artic lorry loads. Where’s it coming from Scotland? If you add up all this nonsense it insanely ironic to call it green.

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