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MP Norman Lamb “applauds” energy firm for “willingness to listen” on Norfolk wind farm projects

PUBLISHED: 17:38 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 23 February 2018

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, left, at a public consultation in Happisburgh. Picture: David Bale

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, left, at a public consultation in Happisburgh. Picture: David Bale

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An MP representing Norfolk parishes and towns set to be affected by the construction of two giant wind farms off the county’s coast has expressed delight with recent decisions taken by the firm behind the proposals.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said Vattenfall’s decision to use high voltage direct current (HVDC) and a technique to minimise coastal erosion for its Vanguard and Boreas wind farms was “a demonstration of the value of campaigning”, referencing lobbying of the company by residents and campaign groups.

“They [Vattenfall] have listened and they have acted on it. This is a strategic decision taken at the top of the company,” he said.

Mr Lamb chaired a heated meeting attended by Vattenfall representatives and hundreds of residents at Witton and Ridlington village hall last summer, at which he says there was “a lot of anger” about the potential construction of relay stations to service the wind farms in the countryside.

“There was a great suspicion that the company was going through the motions of consultation and that people were not being listened to, but at that meeting we challenged the company to think creatively, to be prepared to innovate, to look at the technology for direct current,” he said.

“I really think the pressure from me and from local people has had an effect on the outcome.”

Vattenfall had made a “brave” decision in opting for HVDC rather than the more common alternating current (HVAC), Mr Lamb said.

“This is a novel approach for the UK. Direct current has been used elsewhere but in the UK context it is quite challenging. It is more expensive up front but it is more environmentally sustainable because you lose less energy down the length of the cable.

“The corridor they will use is significantly narrower so much less disruptive, and we avoid having relay stations in the middle of the north Norfolk countryside, so I openly applaud the company for their willingness to listen.

“It has been difficult, but they have been prepared to be brave and to lead the way in a very constructive direction,” he said.

The residents and campaigners of Necton, near Swaffham, are less pleased with the decision, which will see a taller substation built in their village than if the HVAC alternative had been chosen – although Vattenfall says it will also be quieter.

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk which includes Necton, said: “I will be holding a meeting in the coming days with representatives of Necton Parish Council, Vattenfall, the Necton Substation Action Group and local councillors to receive an update from Vattenfall and discuss further the concerns being expressed by the local community.”

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