Hollywood star Ralph Fiennes has produced a new short film protesting against planned infrastructure on land for one of the world’s largest offshore wind hubs in the North Sea, as campaigners launch a new petition against the UK project.
The British actor appeals in the film against plans to build onshore substations on the Suffolk coast of eastern England to support the £6.5bn ($7.9bn) 3GW East Anglia Hub being developed by ScottishPower Renewables, a subsidiary of Spanish renewables giant Iberdrola.
Fiennes produced the film with British BAFTA-winning director Charles Sturridge in support of Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS), which is fighting against the plans in the English courts.
The film was released today (Tuesday) to coincide with a new SEAS petition calling for a stop to the “needless destruction of our countryside” and a debate on the matter in Parliament.
In the film, Fiennes appears walking along the Suffolk coastline and explains that he was born to a tenant farmer just outside the nearby village of Wangford, with the beaches forming some of his earliest memories and “soaked into his consciousness.”
The North Sea, stretching onto the horizon, is the “perfect place” to build wind turbines vital for the fight against global warming, said Fiennes.
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But only one North Sea country, the UK, has “decided to bring this vital clean green energy into the grid by building on land on greenfield sites as opposed to brownfield sites,” he said, “creating acres of steel and concrete in areas of profound natural beauty”.
Current plans would he said involve a complex of electrical infrastructure connecting to “two vast electrical hubs built inland destroying many acres of heathland and habitat and coastline and wetland irreversibly.”
Fiennes called for the UK to take the approach of its North Sea neighbours and build the bulk of the infrastructure offshore, claiming National Grid’s own figures suggest this would save £2bn in East Anglia alone.
“Yes, yes, yes to green power a million times over,” he said. But he called for it to be implemented with a “forward-thinking and environmentally enlightened vision.”
A British judge in October granted SEAS permission to appeal against an earlier decision by the High Court in London that rejected its calls for a judicial review into government consent for the substations.
In its new petition, SEAS, which stresses that it is pro-offshore wind, argues this is a nationwide issue with National Grid “needlessly riding roughshod over precious countryside” all over the UK.
“There is unnecessary vast long-term damage to ecology and irreversible destruction to wildlife habitats, corridors and lowland heathland,” it argues, while local tourism will also be damaged.
The SEAS campaign has previously attracted the backing of Dame Joanna Lumley, comedian Griff Rhys Jones and a clutch of MPs.
ScottishPower has previously told Recharge that its East Anglia offshore wind farms are “critical infrastructure projects that will not only help bring more homegrown green electricity onto the grid, but will deliver billions of pounds of investment and support thousands of jobs in the East of England and across the UK.”
“We remain committed to delivering them as quickly as possible to achieve the clean energy future we all want – and need.”