Norfolk farmers urged to ‘engage at an early stage’ with wind farm developers Dong Energy and Vattenfall

Dong Energy's Walney wind farm, 19km off the Cumbrian coast.

Dong Energy's Walney wind farm, 19km off the Cumbrian coast. - Credit: DONG Energy

Farmers must enter negotiations with energy developers at an early stage to ensure they get the best deal for cables and infrastructure crossing their land.

Jane Kenny, associate director at Savills

Jane Kenny, associate director at Savills - Credit: Savills

That was one of the messages from rural property agency Savills at its annual farmers' breakfast meeting in Aylsham.

Associate director Jane Kenny said the energy demands from a growing UK population, coupled with the government's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, has resulted in a proliferation of wind schemes.

Two companies, Dong Energy and Vattenfall, are currently undergoing environmental impact assessments and public consultations for the onshore cable routes for major wind farms off the Norfolk coast – which will both cross miles of agricultural land. For Dong Energy's Hornsea Project Three, the connection will run from Weyborne to a substation south of Norwich, and early plans for Vattenfall's Norfolk Vanguard wind farm show cables coming ashore between Mundesley and Eccles-on-Sea and connecting to the grid at Necton, near Swaffham.

Mrs Kenny said: 'What do they want from farmers? They want to be able to enter into an option agreement which will give them the right to acquire an interest in the future, at an agreed price, by a specified date. They are looking for easements for the cable route, but they are also looking for suitable locations for substations and booster stations.

'You could also claim for drainage, crop loss, access agreements, and additional time incurred. For some people there will be extra farming operations if their land is split by the route of the cable.

'I am always asked: 'Do they have compulsory purchase powers and the right to acquire land?' The answer is that as part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) they do have these powers, however developers always prefer to negotiate.

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'Although I know there are a number of people who are not particularly keen on these schemes, it is important to engage at an early stage, because it provides the opportunity to influence decisions. If you put your head in the sand and then enter negotiations later, decisions will already have been made that you could have influenced, but can no longer change – such as the route of the cable.'