Public consultation and programme

Our non-statutory consultation ran from Tuesday 27 June until Monday 21 August 2023. We will now collate and analyse all feedback received and take this into account as we refine the Project design. We will then prepare and publish an additional Feedback Report, which will summarise the feedback we have received and outline how we carried out both consultations that will have been held by this point.

Consultation is important to us as it allows members of the public to influence the way project is developed by providing feedback and to help local people understand better what a particular project means for them, so that concerns resulting from misunderstandings are resolved early. It also helps to identify potential mitigating measures to be considered.

Indicative timeline for the Norwich to Tilbury project

 

Statutory consultation on our proposals

We expect to hold a statutory consultation on our proposals in 2024. This will outline how feedback from the non-statutory consultations has informed the project and provide more detail on Norwich to Tilbury.

After we have completed this consultation, we will collate and analyse all feedback received and take this into account as we refine the Project design. We will then prepare and publish a Consultation Report, which will summarise all the feedback we have received and outline how we carried out both the non-statutory and statutory consultations.

How we consulted

Promoted to

3.1m

people across East Anglia

Wrote directly to

50,000

homes along the 183km route

Facilitated

12

community events

Held

4

community information webinars

Received

4,000

feedback responses

We consulted with local residents, communities, landowners and local businesses and interest groups, as well as elected representatives, and prescribed consultees, such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and Historic England.

We asked for your feedback on our latest preferred draft alignment and anything we should consider as we develop the proposals further. Knowing what matters to you matters to us. Your feedback is important to help us as we develop our proposals in more detail. We will carefully consider all feedback received during the consultation period as we continue to develop the project and we will publish a feedback report detailing how we’ve had regard to the feedback.

We produced an interactive map, detailing our proposals for Norwich to Tilbury. This is to make it easier to identify which area is most relevant to you.  


Ongoing consultation is important in helping us refine our proposals and understand the issues and concerns that communities have. 
 
We acknowledge that there are real concerns and we have listened carefully to  them.  

Following the non statutory consultation, the project will be revised and represented to communities and stakeholders as part of a Statutory Consultation in 2024.

National Grid is regulated by Ofgem and the government, which protects consumers interests and governs our operations.  This means we have a commitment to present facts relating to our operations and proposals.

You told us

Why didn’t you consider all the options, including a sea-based connection?

Ahead of consultation, we conducted a full backcheck of the options for reinforcement of the East Anglia electricity network to meet the future needs of net zero and increasing demand for electricity. This was published in June 2023 and can be found on the project website. We considered the issues associated with the subsea option.
 

On cost

Due to the infrastructure required for a sea-based connection, the cost of building an offshore, under sea connection would be around £4 billion. When you compare that to the estimated £895m cost to build an onshore connection, this is an important consideration.

As a regulated business, we need to consider a range of factors to put forward the right solution and ensure good value for UK bill payers. We believe the current proposal provides this solution and is appropriate and consistent with Government policy.

A question on comparable cost has also been raised on National Grid’s Sea Link project, which as a sea-based connection, presents costs as being relatively similar to an onshore connection. There are many technical reasons why the two projects are not comparable, including capacity. The Norwich to Tilbury connection will connect around three times more electricity than that of Sea Link, which would have a significant impact on the cost to build and operate.
 

On technology

It is technically possible to connect the offshore wind generation to Tilbury. However, subsea links have a maximum capacity of 2000 MW, so to match the 6000 MW that the overhead lines can carry, we would need to propose three new offshore cable links.

An offshore connection would also need new infrastructure on land, including cables from Norwich out to the coast, as well as convertor stations at each end of the cables.

When we assess options, there are times when we feel a subsea connection is the most appropriate proposal, but this is not the case for Norwich to Tilbury. We are also planning to build a sea connection, Sea Link, to carry power out of East Anglia. Sea Link would carry 2,000 MW between Kent and Suffolk and, in this instance, a subsea option was assessed as the most cost-efficient option.

Why aren’t you going offshore as an integrated offshore grid is cheaper, greener and quicker?

The Electricity System Operator (ESO) – a separate part of National Grid – published a preliminary report in December 2020 on various strategic options (Offshore Coordination Phase 1 Report). This preliminary analysis only considered issues at a high-level and has been comprehensively superseded by subsequent assessments, which clearly indicate that an onshore connection would provide best value to consumers.

The ESO has since given this project the go ahead through its Network Options Assessment process (NOA). ESO’s NOA process assesses the costs and benefits of reinforcements and provides recommendations on which project should receive investment – and when. It's also incorrect to assert that an offshore grid is ‘greener’.

All developments have environmental impacts which need to be assessed, managed and mitigated.

It's our responsibility to identify the option which reduces the impact on the environment and the costs to consumers as much as possible. That option, for Norwich to Tilbury, clearly points to an onshore solution.

Why not build an offshore grid?

There is no fully offshore solution to connect offshore wind to the Grid. We have to bring the power onshore somewhere. Our job is to carefully consider the most feasible options and present proposals for public consultation, which go as far as possible to address impacts on local communities and the environment, and also deliver for electricity consumers.

The electricity grid built in the 1960s wasn’t designed to transport renewable energy generated offshore from different sources, so it has to be upgraded. We continue to consult with local communities and will always endeavour to reduce impacts as much as possible so that we can deliver this vital infrastructure, which is essential for the country as a whole.

The Great Grid Upgrade, including the Norwich to Tilbury proposals, will bring huge long-term benefits for consumers, including low-carbon power, energy security and lower prices.

Why haven’t you followed The Treasury Green Book guidance?

The Treasury Green Book provides guidance on the interpretation by public servants of public spending, assets and resources for projects, policies and spend from the public purse. This doesn't apply to us. We follow national guidance, primarily the National Policy Statement EN-5 (National Policy Statement for Electricity Networks Infrastructure), which does not specify application of the Treasury Green Book.

We follow a robust assessment process that we believe is appropriate for projects like this. Our assessments, strategy, plans and recommendations all come under Ofgem regulation and approval. Ultimately our processes will be assessed and tested by the Planning Inspectorate and the relevant Secretary of State. The Treasury Green Book guidance has never been used for any DCO and is not applicable to this project.

Why won’t you underground the full length of the route?

The Government’s National Policy Statement EN-5 clearly states that overhead lines should be the strong starting presumption for electricity networks developments in general, except where proposed development will cross part of a nationally designated landscape (for example, a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Undergrounding cables is significantly more expensive and has environmental and engineering considerations too. That said, we’ve looked carefully at where undergrounding is the best solution and our current proposals include sections at Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Great Horkesley and close to Tilbury.

Wherever undergrounding is being considered, we need to ensure we’re carefully considering the local environment too. This includes looking at local habitats, heritage, and other factors such as watercourses and rivers in order to reduce impacts.

Find out more

Interactive map

View an interactive map of our proposals for Norwich to Tilbury

Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about the project with our Frequently Asked Questions.

Document library

View all documentation and materials for Norwich to Tilbury.

Programme and next steps

View our development programme and next steps.