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“We can crack open a bottle of bubbly now” – landowners celebrate Vattenfall wind farm cable decision

East Ruston farmer Edward de Feyter, whose land was one of the proposed sites for a wind farm relay station. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

East Ruston farmer Edward de Feyter, whose land was one of the proposed sites for a wind farm relay station. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Landowners on the cable route for a major offshore wind farm are celebrating the energy firm’s decision to pursue a transmission option which would halve the corridor width and remove the need for onshore relay stations.

Map of underground cable corridors for the Vattenfall (blue line) and Orsted (red line) offshore wind farms. Image: ArchantMap of underground cable corridors for the Vattenfall (blue line) and Orsted (red line) offshore wind farms. Image: Archant

Swedish company Vattenfall is behind the plans for the Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas wind farms, which would require a 60km cable trench to be dug from Happisburgh to Necton – a source of huge concern for farmers and environmental campaigners.

But the firm has now confirmed it will use a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission method – more advanced than the alternating current (AC) alternative – which will narrow the proposed cable corridor from 100m to 45m and mean no relay stations will be needed near the coast.

Edward de Feyter’s family’s 350-acre Atthills Farm in East Ruston, near Stalham, was one of two potential sites earmarked for an onshore relay station before Vattenfall ruled out the AC option.

“It is fantastic news,” he said. “When I first heard it, it sounded too good to be true.

“If it had gone AC they would have taken over 30 acres of land. That would have been a big loss and the compensation would not have been special.

“And the cable route would have been 100m wide, which would have ripped farms apart and devastated the countryside. Now we’ll have a cable route half as wide with no relay stations – I’ll take that.

“It keeps the farm intact. We didn’t want to sell that field, and to replace it would have been very difficult because land rarely changes hands in this part of Norfolk.

“We can crack open a bottle of bubbly now. It is wonderful news.”

Mr de Feyter said he would now give his support to fellow Norfolk landowners on the cable route for another wind farm project called Hornsea Project Three, which is planned to come ashore at Weybourne and connect to the National Grid south of Norwich. The developer for that project, Danish firm Orsted, is still considering both transmission options.

“We are going to fully support the people affected by the Hornsea Three cable route,” said Mr de Feyter. “We have won our battle, it appears, but others still have to fight theirs and we support them.”

Jane Kenny, associate director at property agency Savills, is working with about 40 landowners affected by the two wind farm projects. She said she was “very pleased” with the Vattenfall decision, and hopes that it could influence Orsted to make a similar choice.

“I am just so pleased they [Vattenfall] have done the right thing,” she said. “It has been a really good team effort in terms of the campaigning, and I feel it has been done in a grown-up way. We have challenged them, and they have taken account of what we have been saying, to come to the right result.

“From a tactical point of view, hopefully it will make Orsted re-think what they are doing, but they seem to be approaching this in a completely different way to Vattenfall.

“That is going to be my next battle. But for now, let’s celebrate the Vattenfall decision.”

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