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Offshore wind farm decision delayed amid concerns

PUBLISHED: 16:53 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:00 10 February 2020

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world, but a decision on whether to give it permission has been delayed until next year. Picture: Vattenfall

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world, but a decision on whether to give it permission has been delayed until next year. Picture: Vattenfall

© Ben Barden Photography Ltd.

A decision on whether to allow a huge wind farm off the Norfolk coast has been delayed amid a raft of concerns.

The cable route for proposed Norfolk Vanguard project. Picture: VattenfallThe cable route for proposed Norfolk Vanguard project. Picture: Vattenfall

The government was due to decide the Norfolk Vanguard wind farm by December 10.

But the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has now written to Norfolk Vanguard's developer, Vattenfall, as well as Natural England and local councils, asking it to address issues ranging from traffic to the environment.

The project calls for the cabling to make landfall at Happisburgh and run over to a new substation to be built next to an existing one in the village of Necton, between Dereham and Swaffham.

Jenny Smedley, from the Necton Substations Action Group, said she was pleased the government was taking the time to scrutinise the plans.

The action group has argued that each new wind farm off the Norfolk coast should be connected to an offshore ring main (ORM) so they could link up to the National Grid together, rather than each project running a separate cable through the countryside.

Mrs Smedley said the wind farm would cause months of disruption and have a permanent impact on the Norfolk countryside.

She said: "It shows they are being vigilant with this and it's not going to be just a box-ticking exercise. The sensible thing would be to call a halt to all DCOs (development consent orders) for offshore wind farms, then the government could get the ORM going and they could all attach to that offshore."

Concerns raised by the government include HGV movements on the B1145 through Cawston and the appearance of the planned substation at Necton. Other issues include the effect of construction techniques on marine mammals, noise control and the use of 'non-standard' construction hours.

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Chris Monk, from Cawston, said: "We're very pro-wind farms, so it's not a Nimby argument, but we're opposed to having 239 additional HGVs going through the village every day."

With the project comes millions of pounds of investment, the creation of hundreds of skilled jobs and, supporters argue, a significant contribution to the fight against climate change.

A Vattenfall spokesperson said: "Projects like Norfolk Vanguard will play a significant role in meeting our low carbon electricity needs to reach net zero and tackle climate change. We've worked closely with stakeholders to make sure that we develop the best possible project. That will continue in the coming weeks as we provide the requested information and clarifications."

The parties have been given a deadline of February 28, 2020 to respond. The secretary of state for energy will set a new deadline for a decision once parliament is back in session.


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