Date set for Little Dunham substation appeal

An appeal against a decision to block proposals for a wind farm substation near Swaffham will go before a government inspector next month.

The development was intended to be part of Warwick Energy's onshore facilities for the planned �1.3m Dudgeon wind farm off the north Norfolk coast.

But in October the green energy company saw its application for the substation at Little Dunham turned down by Breckland Council.

It followed widespread opposition from the local community.

Members of the council's development control committee decided the prominent location of the site, scale and nature of the development would 'appear as an unduly conspicuous and alien feature in this area of generally open countryside'.

Warwick Energy appealed the decision and the date for the two-day public hearing has now been set as Tuesday June 7 at Great Dunham village hall.

Last night, Mark Petterson, project director for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm, said Warwick Energy had been surprised by the planning committee's decision.

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He said: 'Going into the meeting, the independent experts, the experts within Breckland Council, the council officers themselves, and we were all agreed it should have been approved. The committee took a different decision and decided to support the objectors.'

Mr Petterson, who said he was confident the appeal would be upheld, added: 'These things do occasionally happen. That is the whole purpose of having an inspectorate you can appeal to if you get an unusual or unexpected decision.'

Throughout the planning process for the substation, villagers from Little Dunham have staged a high-profile campaign against the plans.

More than 1,500 people signed a petition against the application.

The objectors believe the creation of the substation would see the 'industrialisation of over 20 acres of farmland' while a further 22 acres 'would also be lost to landscaping, including a new man-made embankment the height of adjacent housing to try and hide the site'.

Simon Fowler, chairman of Little Dunham Parish Council, urged villagers to attend the appeal hearing to show the inspector the strength of feeling among local people.

He added: 'We are confident the planning inspectorate will support the council's decision and reject the appeal. This is not an issue about renewable energy. It is a planning issue and we have campaigned from the outset that this is the wrong site for such a development.'

The substation would enable the 560MW Dudgeon wind farm to link up with the National Grid.

It is proposed for an open field off the village's Necton Road and could include four converter buildings measuring 70m long by 25m wide and 15m high.

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