Rare bird and village traffic fears delay world’s biggest wind farm
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A bid to build a huge offshore wind farm has been held up because of the impact it would have on an endangered bird and a mid-Norfolk village.
Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, announced on Wednesday that he was “minded to approve” Hornsea Three wind farm, but the energy company behind it needed to give him more information before the end of September.
If completed, it would have a capacity of 2.4 Gigawatts making it the biggest in the world and generating energy for two million homes.
But Mr Sharma has asked Danish energy firm Orsted to come up with more details about how it would protect an endangered gull, the kittiwake.
He has also asked Orsted to review how it will manage traffic in Cawston, near Reepham, where a large cable trench will need to be dug to connect the wind farm to the National Grid.
Orsted will need to dig a trench 35 miles long from Weybourne on the coast, to Swardeston, south of Norwich, where it will join the National Grid.
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At the same time, another wind farm, called Vanguard, will need a cable trench from Happisburgh to Necton.
The two trenches will cross at Cawston, meaning villagers there will be particularly affected by construction work.
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Mr Sharma gave the go-ahead for Vanguard yesterday and Orsted and Norfolk County Council will now have to come up with a new traffic management plan for Cawston.
Chris Monk, who lives in the village and sits on Cawston Parish Council, accused the energy companies of passing around the issue like a “hot potato”.
The parish council flagged its concerns in 2018 about extra construction traffic.
The wind farm would be built 75 miles off the north Norfolk coast and cabling will then run to the shore at Weybourne.
An expert panel last year recommended that Mr Sharma reject Orsted’s plans as parts of the cabling would affect Marine Protected Areas, including Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds.
The protected area runs from Weybourne to Happisburgh and contains more than 350 species.
Orsted argued however there would not be a “significant risk” and carried out further research to support that. Mr Sharma agreed with Orsted.
Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, from the Marine Conservation Society, warned that even if only a small area was damaged it would have large impact.
“If any part Cromer Shoal Chalk Bed is damaged it will obliterated,” he said.