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“It’s been designed along political lines”: Tensions rise at NNDC over establishment of Vattenfall sub-committee

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: Vattenfall

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: Vattenfall

© Ben Barden Photography Ltd.

The troubles at North Norfolk District Council appear to be far from over, after eyebrows were raised following the establishment of an exclusive sub-committee.

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

At a cabinet meeting on February 5, members elected to establish a sub-committee of cabinet members only, with the aim of easing relations between north Norfolk residents and offshore wind developers Vattenfall.

The Swedish firm is planning to build an offshore wind development to be situated about 47km north-east of Winterton, with onshore impact seeing cabling running initially through Happisburgh, East Ruston and Ridlington, and then inland through North Walsham and Worstead.

As the committee will be made up solely of portfolio holders, this means that the councillors who represent the wards most affected by the Vattenfall wind farm will be excluded from sitting on the committee.

Eris Seward, county councillor for North Walsham East said: “It’s been designed along party political lines.

“It could potentially impact the people in these areas because the on-the-ground knowledge has been removed from the committee.”

Leader of the NNDC councillor Tom FitzPatrick responded: “This is a cabinet sub-committee and we will call the relevant ward councillors as and when needed.

“Many members of the public came to our previous cabinet meeting and asked the district council to fight their corner. We promised to build a sub-committee with the relevant portfolio holders, and that’s what we’ve done.”

The cabinet’s objectives for this committee are to: “Act as a formal mechanism between North Norfolk District Council, local communities and offshore wind developer Vattenfall, in order that there is a deeper understanding of the company’s proposals to develop the Norfolk Vanguard.”

Councillor Lee Walker is the only councillor from outside the cabinet who has so far been invited as a guest to the sub-committee, as she represents the ward of Happisburgh.

Councillors from within the cabinet sitting on the committee will be John Lee, Sue Arnold and Richard Price.

It has been suggested that a cross-party working group would be more effective.

Mr Seward, who represents the ward of North Walsham North at the NNDC continued: “We should be working together at county and district level so that we can have the most powerful and unified voice.”

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