More than £1 million has been awarded to an electricity co-ordination scheme in a move which campaigners think will eventually mean a 113-mile pylon project will be scrapped.

An energy project known as Sea Link, which is a subsea connection proposed between Suffolk and Kent, has been awarded £1.7 million in funding from the Government so researchers can explore linking two windfarms without onshore pylons.

A further £11.7 million of funding could be awarded in the 2024-25 financial year.

The financial support has raised hopes that National Grid could shelve its plan for a 113-mile pylon project, with campaigners hoping that the research into subsea connections could eventually translate to a new plan for the Norwich to Tilbury project.

The Government has said the on-shore project is needed to upgrade the country’s existing electricity transmission network and allow the east of England to benefit from green energy.

Campaigners have argued an offshore grid is needed to safe the environment and surrounding wildlife.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Determined – Rosie Pearson is hoping the National Grid will U-turn on the on-shore projectDetermined – Rosie Pearson is hoping the National Grid will U-turn on the on-shore project (Image: Newsquest)

A Government’s awarding of a £1.7 million grant to the Sea Link project was greeted positively by campaigners and Harwich MP Bernard Jenkin.

He said: “This government money to explore offshore alternatives to the Norwich to Tilbury pylons scheme is a victory for North Essex – I very much welcome this. 

“It could remove the need for pylons and undergrounding of cables through the Stour Valley, round the north of Colchester and back, and for the new massive substations at Ardleigh. 

“It does however raise the question: why haven’t these alternatives been considered before?

“If offshore coordination works here, why is it not feasible for the whole of Norwich-Tilbury?”

Rosie Pearson, who founded the Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons group in opposition to the plans, added: “We think it could mean the National Grid will go back to square one and review the need for the pylons.

“We think the rug has been pulled from under them by this.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Pile-on – thousands have signed a petition in opposition to plans for an on-shore gridPile-on – thousands have signed a petition in opposition to plans for an on-shore grid (Image: Pexels)

“I think this is a really big result for the pylons campaign and could result in a complete rethink.

“Now, we want the National Grid electricity system operator consultation that follows to go much further and look at a properly integrated grid offshore.”

But a National Grid spokesman said the Electricity System Operator is reviewing whether the Tilbury to Norwich scheme could run offshore.

He said: “Norwich to Tilbury, a proposed onshore project due to the capacity of energy needed to be delivered, is not part of the consortium that has been awarded funding.

“Separately, the Electricity System Operator is reviewing whether offshore co-ordination would have an impact on Norwich to Tilbury and if this should change, we would of course review and engage with impacted communities and stakeholders.”