Ongoing dispute between fishermen and energy company sparks concerns over the future of north Norfolk’s fishing industry

On Wells Quay are fishermen (from left) Rob Harris, Nicky King and Carl Pickering. Picture: Ian Burt On Wells Quay are fishermen (from left) Rob Harris, Nicky King and Carl Pickering. Picture: Ian Burt

Friday, August 29, 2014
12:11 PM

An on-going dispute between north Norfolk fishermen and an offshore wind company could threaten the future of the district’s fishing industry, it has been warned.

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The Times has reported how Dong Energy has issued an injunction which prevents fishing in an area of The Wash to allow survey work to be completed.

North Norfolk fishermen say they have worked well with energy companies in recent years, but they are no closer to reaching an agreement with Dong and are concerned that this new dispute could lead to future problems.

Nicky King, 51, chairman of the Wells and District Inshore Fishermen’s Association, said: “We’ve looked into challenging the injunction but it will cost too much. It will cost £10,000 just to find out if it is worth fighting it.

“They are using their financial muscle to get their way this time and with the amount of offshore wind developments due to go ahead in the future we are worried this may happen again.”

He added: “We just want a fair compensation for not being able to fish in one of our best areas.

“I am worried about the future of the fishing industry here and I’m glad to be closer to retirement than starting out.”

The injunction has banned fishing in an area well-used for crab, lobster and whelk fishing from August 15 until October 22.

Fishermen had been ordered to remove all equipment, but some pots still remain there with fishermen claiming weather conditions have prevented them from doing so.

Prospective parliamentary candidate for The Conservative Party For North Norfolk Ann Steward has called for talks between the fishermen and Dong Energy to resume.

She said: “It is of vital importance that we balance the needs of our important fishing industry and energy production.”

Liberal Democrat North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “I would be happy to chair a meeting between the fishermen and Dong to help find a solution that suits everybody.”

Dong has said it has used the injunction as a last resort and wants to continue discussions.

Dong chose not to comment further when contacted this week.

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