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Hintlesham Woods

bluebells

Image: Andy Hay

Hintlesham Woods are nationally important for their size, archaeological features, plant communities and birds. This Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) area is also important for a number of rare or uncommon species including white admiral and silver washed fritillary butterflies, and dormice.

However, despite all of this, National Grid wishes to construct transmission lines in the area. This is to accommodate new power generation from offshore wind farms under construction off the Suffolk coast, as well as the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station.

The proposed pylons would fragment the wood, creating a barrier to the movement of plants and animals and consequently reducing the environmental value of the remaining habitat. Vital high canopy habitat would be lost, which is particular important for marsh tit, nuthatch and a range of important invertebrates that can be found at this site.

Our concerns are that constructing pylons through the woods could require the potential destruction of at least 1.5ha of ancient woodland – this is irreplaceable habitat that we simply cannot afford to lose. Given the fact that we have already lost over 50% of our ancient woodlands in the UK since the end of the Second World War, it is imperative that we protect what we have left.

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There is an abundance of wildlife across theses woods from insects to plants and birds. Here are just a few:

Birds, those that sing...
Nightingale, bullfinch and song thrush are some of the most abudant species. The large populations of marsh tit and nuthatch are incredibly important within the Suffolk county.

Moths, the winged kind...
Pauper pug, which mainly eats lime. Mocha is a nationally scarce moth and this one eats field maple.

Plants, simply beautiful ...
Some of the most important tree species in the woods are: wild service and small-leaved lime.

In terms of plants, you can find: herb-Paris, green hellebore, violet helleborine, wood sorrel, wood anemones. There are also bluebells, one of our favourites!

The creepy crawlies ...
A Red Data Book (very important!) beetle called Mesosa nebulosa is found in the woods and its larvae live in dead wood in the canopy.

A flat-backed millipede that goes by the name of Propolydesmus testaceus is also one of our favourites found in the woodland. It was discovered about five years ago in Hintlesham Wood and was the most northerly site in Europe to have such a millipede (the only site in the country where all five species of Polydesmus millipedes were found. Would you believe it!). 

 

 

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Despite our efforts since 2009 to encourage National Grid to avoid a route through the Hintlesham Woods SSSI, they have retained it as an option within their preferred route corridor. However, there is an alternative route possible to the south of the woods, which would avoid the SSSI completely. Undergrounding the southerly route would provide significant biodiversity benefits and provide landscape benefits to the local community if undergrounded. 

There is already one high voltage line passing through the woods. However, National Grid's plans include an option for a second line to run parallel to the existing line, either through the Ramsey Wood or Hintlesham Wood components of the SSSI. Opening up the woods will increase fragmentation, widely considered one of the greatest threats to habitats, potentially reducing the movement of wildlife and plants between the remaining woodland blocks. We should be looking at reconnecting woodland sites, not dividing them further. An overhead line constructed through the woods would result in the loss of at least 1.5 hectares of ancient woodland. 

Damaging a SSSI goes against National Grid's own statement of duty to protect important habitats, especially when an alternative route is available. The route avoiding the SSSI would ensure environmental impacts are minimised.

October 2009

National Grid launch a public consultation on a new 400,000 volt connection between Bramford substation in Suffolk and Twinstead Tee in Essex

2011

Despite our efforts to encourage National Grid to avoid a route through the Hintlesham Woods SSSI they retain it as an option within their preferred route corridor

Spring 2012

National Grid plan to make an announcement on what parts of the new transmission line route they plan to underground

Spring 2012

National Grid will run a public consultation on constructing a new tranmission line along Option 2A (to the south of Hintlesham Woods SSSI) or Option 2B (potentially through Hintlesham Woods SSSI)

Summer 2012

Following the consultation on Options 2A or 2B, National Grid will carry out detailed surveys throughout the summer

October 2012

A planning application will be submitted