Energy strategy: What the government's new plan means for East Anglia

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

The government has revealed its new energy strategy, with East Anglia set to be at the heart of plans to dramatically reshape the sector.

As part of the proposals, there will be a renewed focus on nuclear, wind, solar and hydrogen production in a bid to boost the UK's energy independence.

The hope is that the strategy will, in time, lead to homegrown, cleaner and cheaper energy.

The ambition is for 95% of the UK's electricity to come from low-carbon sources by 2030.

Sites in East Anglia will be key to delivering that ambition, although not everyone is happy.

Some critics argue that huge nuclear reactors and energy farms will blight the region's famous countryside, while others say the strategy does nothing to address the current rise in energy costs.

Here's a look at how the strategy could affect the East of England:

  • Nuclear

How the Sizewell C site would look, if it was built. Credit: EDF

The government is planning to reduce the UK's reliance on oil and gas by having as many as eight new nuclear reactors up and running by 2050 - including two at Sizewell in Suffolk.

The government remains in "constructive negotiations" with French developer EDF about the building of the multi-billion pound Sizewell C reactor, which would supply a quarter of the country's electricity demand.

A similar plant could be built down the coast at Bradwell in Essex as well.

It was also revealed on Thursday that EDF could also extend the operating life of the existing Sizewell B site by another 20 years.

The plant was due to be decommissioned in 2035, but could now wind up in 2055 instead, with a final decision due in 2024.

Robert Gunn, the director of the Sizewell B plant said: "For me, we really want to tackle it on both fronts. We need that low-carbon power in the longer term, so I think extending Sizewell B's life is a great opportunity for us.

"But, on top of that, we really want to see the new power stations being built as well."

Campaigners have been protesting against the construction of Sizewell C for more than a decade due to the impact it could have on the environment, and are not about to stop fighting any time soon.

Alison Downes from the Stop Sizewell C campaign group said: "Ministers should avoid making statements about projects that are within the planning process in a way that might be perceived as pre-determining the outcome.

"We were appalled to hear the Secretary of State [Kwasi Kwarteng] say that the government is backing Sizewell C. Local people's faith in due process has already been stretched to the limits and this will break it entirely."

  • Wind

The wind farms would consist of 142 turbines. Credit: PA

In the last week, two major wind farms off the Suffolk coast were given consent by the government.

East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two, which would be built off the coast of Lowestoft and Southwold, would consist of 142 offshore turbines.

It is estimated the farms would power up to four million homes.

The news was welcomed by Ian Pease from Generate, the East of England's energy investment partnership, who said that it would help to keep the country "on track for net zero by 2050."

However, the projects have attracted a lot of criticism as well, including from high-profile celebrities Dame Joanna Lumley, Ralph Fiennes and Griff Rhys Jones, who all signed a letter published in the Times newspaper that argued that parts of the Suffolk countryside could "disappear under a sea of concrete".Much of the disapproval focuses on the two controversial sub-stations that would be built at Friston near Saxmundham as part of the projects.

  • Solar

Campaigners have voiced their objections to the proposed Sunnica solar farm. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Just like the proposed nuclear and wind farm projects, there is huge controversy over plans to build Britain's biggest solar farm on the Suffolk-Cambridgeshire border.

Energy firm Sunnica is hoping to be given the green light to build the massive site which would span just over 2,500 acres around several villages.

That would equate to the same size as 2,000 football pitches and would be more than 10 times bigger than any other built in Britain.

Sunnica say it would provide enough energy to power 172,000 homes.

Luke Murray from Sunnica said: "This will represent some change but what we're looking at is delivering a project for future generations.

"This is an intergenerational issue that we're dealing with now. We can bring a low-cost clean electricity source on-stream very quickly, and it supplements the strategy announced today which is focused on the medium to long-terms, and solar fits well with that."

Campaigners say that the sheer size of the site is their biggest concern.

Lance Stanbury from the Say No to Sunnica campaign group said: "The strategy does say that they are going to ensure there is consultation with local people and that's all we've asked for.

"The feedback, not just from local people but from councils as well, is that we're against having a solar farm, thousands of football pitches in size."