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Fisherman set to object to wind farm

PUBLISHED: 08:45 05 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 22 October 2010

RICHARD BATSON

Fishermen are set to object to a planned major wind farm off the north Norfolk coast - despite a report which says it will do no long term harm to the area.

Fishermen are set to object to a planned major wind farm off the north Norfolk coast - despite a report which says it will do no long term harm to the area.

A study into the environmental impact of the Sheringham Shoal scheme said any effect on fisheries, shipping, bird life and the seascape would be minimal and temporary.

But a local fishermen's spokesman on Sunday night said they would be objecting to the farm, and the study under-played the problems.

The project involves between 45 and 108 turbines which are 172m tall, located 17-23 km offshore, and with an operating life of 40 years.

The Sheringham Shoal spot was not a primary commercial fishing area - with only seasonal long-lining and half a dozen crab and lobster potting boats from Blakeney and Wells, says the new study just submitted to the Government.

The impact would be “minor adverse” which operators Scira say means “undesirable but of limited concern”.

They also pledge to work with local fishermen about the keeping gear within the site, says the report.

However, Ivan Large who represents up to 50 inshore and offshore fishermen, said the construction and operation of the wind farm would hit important fishing grounds, and hamper the work of local boats.

He was also concerned about the combined effect of hundreds of turbines planned for elsewhere in the Greater Wash area.

“We will be objecting. The wind farm is in an important area, as is the spot where the cables are coming ashore.

“They say they won't stop us going into the area the fish - but it is an accident waiting to happen, and then they will ban us,” added Mr Large, from the North Norfolk Fishing Society and Wells and District Inshore Fishermen's Association.

He felt the fishing surveys had not picked up on the scale and importance of the fishing activity in the area.

The Scira report also says two years of bird surveys, checking movements of terns, razorbills, gannets, gulls and guillemots, found no species was in major danger.

Turbine rows would be orientated in the main flying direction of breeding and foraging terns.

There were also minimal marine mammals such as harbour porpoises and seals, while shipping numbers were low due to the surrounding shallows.

Temporary disturbance during construction could be from stirred up sediment, while once it operation it could come from noise and vibration. But neither were thought to provide a significant problem.

The turbines would only been seen on the horizon on clear days, adds the report from Scira.

A Ministry of Defence survey was also looking into the combined effect of turbine blades on radar signals, and looking at ways of coping with it.

Scira communications manager Kerry-Leigh Bradfield said “our findings indicate the project will not have any long-term adverse effects on the environment.

“Furthermore the project will make a significant contribution to the UK's national and regional renewable energy targets.”

The Sheringham windfarm will generate energy for about 178,000 homes - almost twice the electricity needs of the whole of the North Norfolk coast.

Twin cables bringing the power ashore will land at Weybourne, with a switch station built in the grounds of the Muckleburgh Collection military museum, next to the car park.

A series of public exhibitions to update the public and answer their questions are planned this month.

They are at Sheringham's Burlington Hotel on June 28 (10am-7pm), Cromer's Cliftonville Hotel on June 29 (11-5) and Wells Maltings on June 30 (10-2).

Copies of the report can be found at local libraries and town council offices, or downloaded from the Scira website www.scira.co.uk


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