Dudgeon wind farm cable deferred by North Norfolk planners

A decision over an underground power cable connecting an offshore windfarm to a planned sub-station in the centre of Norfolk has been deferred.

Protestors including farmers and parish councils said the route would cut a scar through the countryside damaging scenery, farmland soil and hedgerows.

But Dudgeon windfarm developers Warwick said it would have no impact once it was built and would provide enough electricity to power every house in the county.

More than 27km of the 45km cable passes through 15 parishes in North Norfolk after coming ashore at Weybourne. It will be connected to an offshore farm with up to 168 turbines, which is awaiting government approval, and Warwick is poised to apply for second phase next door which would double its size.

At the other end is a sub-station at Little Dunham which was refused by Breckland planners, but with an appeal result due any day.

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The cable would be sunk using trenches and horizontal drilling under some sensitive areas within a working corridor 40m wide - with scope to add in the second phase later.

Some parishes and farmers along the route have objected, North Norfolk District Council's development committee heard.

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David Bolton representing Kelling, Salthouse, Thursford and Stibbard said their planning barrister felt the cable would cut a swathe through the heritage coast, a cherished Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty landscape, and working farmland, removing parts of 151 hedgerows and should be refused.

Farmer Andy Boesen from Great Ryburgh said it would affect 20 per cent or his 400 acre arable farm for four or five years which would be devastating.

Project director Mark Petterson said Dudgeon was a 'project for Norfolk and Great Britain' and only a 'vocal few' out of 50 farmers along the route had objected, while there was support from the Environment Agency and Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Techniques were similar to the cabling done for the Sheringham Shoal windfarm, after which 'crops are happily growing again less then a year after installation.'

Asked why the cable had to be taken so far inland to Little Dunham, he said it was because other national gird connection points were already at capacity.

Earlier in the day councillors toured the cable route. Michael Baker said the visit revealed the 'enormity of the systematic rape of the countryside' in pursuance of the project, and wanted more information about the impact on the two biggest local industries tourism and farming.

Members were at one stage toying with refusing the scheme, but were warned they would need strong expert evidence to back their decision, and the council's own officials and experts were recommending approval.

The committee voted 10-0 with two abstentions to defer the plan until the outcome of the Little Dunham sub station appeal was known and to resolve issues such as the short-term impact on farming and tourism, whether Warwick would re-route around the badly-affected Great Ryburgh farm, and look at underground drilling instead of trenching at the Stiffkey and Wensum Rivers, and consider only doing the first phase.

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