Skegness site ’best option’ for ‘substation-like’ compound

RWE's shortlist of reactive compound sites.
RWE's shortlist of reactive compound sites.
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Proposals to build a ‘substation-like’ compound on the outskirts of Skegness have been selected by the planning authority as the most appropriate of three hotly contested options.

East Lindsey District Council advised RWE npower renewables that its proposed sites opposite Skegness Stadium and near Burgh le Marsh were not suitable due to their rural character.

However, the site at Wainfleet Road, next to the industrial estate, was thought to be the ‘best option that has been put forward of the three’.

“This would be relatively divorced from the town and heighten the scale and character of the compound,” wrote planning team leader Chris Panton.

The chosen site would host a ‘reactive compound’ up to 20 acres in size to transfer power generated by RWE’s Triton Knoll offshore wind farm towards a substation in Biker Fen.

The reactive compound proposal and its associated underground cable route linking with the onshore connection point and Anderby Creek have provoked widespread opposition from local councillors and residents, who believe RWE should avoid East Lindsey altogether, taking the cable route directly to Norfolk instead.

Although the district council has stressed its recommendation in no way prejudices the formal planning application, in which local views will be considered at a later date, Skegness councillors, nearby businesses and the site’s owner have all expressed concerns about the choice of site.

Thorpe Caravan Sales claims the building would be a ‘monstrosity’ posing a negative impact on surrounding leisure parks, which councillors discussing comments at Wednesday’s Skegness Town Council were almost entirely in agreement with.

Coun Steve Kirk said: “We need to fight this, we don’t want this on our doorstep.”

Coun Robin Hunter-Clarke also objected, claiming wind power was an ‘absolute scam’ and Coun Mark Smith felt the council should ‘support [its] coastal businesses’ by opposing it.

Coun Ken Milner, whose district council ward includes the proposed site, explained he had not been consulted prior to the response being sent. He also opposes the option.

The site’s owner Roy Sanderson raised further concerns with the MP for Boston and Skegness Mark Simmonds during a meeting at the North Shore Hotel on Friday.

“This will interfere with the future development of the industrial estate and is it the right appearance for people approaching Skegness to see a big substation?” he said.

Mr Sanderson hoped ELDC would take the same stance as Lincolnshire County Council by opposing it entirely.

Mr Simmonds, though supportive of appropriate renewable development, agreed that any associated onshore infrastructure should be located only at sites where it had the public’s support.

The district council’s response also expressed its desire for RWE to provide ‘sustainable community benefit’ as part of the development, which usually takes the form of a one-off payment.

RWE’s Triton Knoll project manager said: “As a responsible developer, RWE npower renewables offer a community investment package with its developments.

“Once we know the exact locations of the electrical infrastructure, we will hold a consultation to tailor a community investment package to meet their needs.

“In our experience, quite often communities look at how the community investment package can support local economic regeneration.”