A county councillor has said small-scale nuclear reactors would make more sense than constructing pylons across swathes of the Norfolk countryside.

During a Norfolk County Council debate about contentious plans for the Norwich to Tilbury 114-mile pylon route, Conservative Tom FitzPatrick said nuclear power could negate the need for such schemes.

Eastern Daily Press: Campaigners say the pylons should go under the seaCampaigners say the pylons should go under the sea (Image: Newsquest)

Mr FitzPatrick bemoaned how National Grid's pylon plans would take power from wind farms off the Norfolk coast to Essex, without Norfolk benefiting from any of the electricity.

Eastern Daily Press: Tom FitzPatrickTom FitzPatrick (Image: Archant)

He referred to the small modular nuclear reactors which Rolls-Royce are developing and said that was a better way to produce energy, which could be used locally.

He said: "Why would anyone think it is right that a series of pylons be run across Norfolk when there's actually no benefit to Norfolk and building is actually deleterious to the county?

"The only place it benefits is when it arrives at Greater London."

Eastern Daily Press: An artist's rendering of what a small modular nuclear reactor plant - in this case one planned by the company Nu Scale - could look like.An artist's rendering of what a small modular nuclear reactor plant - in this case one planned by the company Nu Scale - could look like. (Image: Nu Scale)

Mr FitzPatrick, who represents Fakenham, said: "We should be pushing that localisation of power, generated locally, but benefiting locally.

"One thing I am greatly in favour of, have been for many years, is that we should have small nuclear generation to do it.

"Rolls-Royce have rolled back on that in this country, simply because there's not been the take-up.

"Everything that's done in Norfolk is pushed out of Norfolk and maybe it's time that we were pushing for it to be benefiting the local area.

"Pylons, to my mind should not be built in this day and age. But even worse, there's no benefit to here."

Graham Plant, the council's cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport previously called for Norfolk to have three such nuclear reactors.

Eastern Daily Press: Dan RoperDan Roper (Image: Dan Roper)

But Dan Roper, Liberal Democrat chairman of the council's scrutiny committee, said: "I don't think we will go into the nuclear question today."

National Grid says the power line from Norfolk to Essex is needed to allow electricity generated by North Sea wind farms to be used elsewhere in the country.

It says using pylons rather than burying the cable underground or using undersea cables will reduce the cost to energy bill payers.

Eastern Daily Press: Keith KiddieKeith Kiddie

Keith Kiddie, Conservative councillor for Diss and Roydon, said the town and village would be "disproportionately" affected by the pylons, given there are already pylons lines in the area.

He said: "The proposal snakes around the west of Roydon and would utterly envelop it.

"If this comes to pass, Diss and Roydon would be surrounded, almost 360 degrees, by pylons.

"The depth of anger and despair is already palpable. This will have a significant impact on our people."

Eastern Daily Press: Steve MorphewSteve Morphew (Image: Denise Bradley)

Labour group leader Steve Morphew said: "I think we should be very clear that we oppose anything to do with the pylons.

"Pylons are a technology which, frankly, was new when I was a kid, which is a blooming long time ago.

"We ought to be able to do better now. If we have got potential opportunities for wind and alternative energy sources, let's make sure the technology for transmission lives up to the technology being used for power in the first place."

Eastern Daily Press: The pylon plans have attracted oppositionThe pylon plans have attracted opposition (Image: Christine Murton)

National Grid has altered its plans so some of the cables could now go beneath, rather than over the Waveney Valley.

Eastern Daily Press: Prof Catherine RowettProf Catherine Rowett

But Green councillor Prof Catherine Rowett said she remained concerned about the impact on the Tas Valley.

And with other infrastructure projects proposed for the west of the county, Conservative Brian Long said he was concerned about the cumulative impact on Norfolk.

Eastern Daily Press: Brian LongBrian Long (Image: © David Copeman Photography 2011)

The county council voted last year to oppose the plans and, more recently, expressed "significant concerns" about the proposals.

The official response to the consultation will come from the authority's planning and highways delegations committee, which meets next month.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquartersNorfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters (Image: Mike Page)

Officers at County Hall are likely to recommend that the committee calls for the scheme to be paused, so alternatives to pylons can be considered "more rationally and more fully".

Stephen Faulkner, principal planner at the county council, said: "The point around a pause is a valid one."