Little Dunham claims victory in dispute over electricity substation plan

Protestors at the Breckland Council meeting about Little Dunham substation application in 2010.

Protestors at the Breckland Council meeting about Little Dunham substation application in 2010. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

A small mid Norfolk community has claimed victory in its three-year battle to stop an electricity substation being built in its backyard.

The plans for the structure, which would connect energy from the proposed Dudgeon Offshore Windfarm to the National Grid, faced ferocious opposition from residents of Little Dunham, near Swaffham, after Warwick Energy first submitted them in December 2009.

The proposals had been rejected by Breckland councillors, a planning inspector and ministers, but the issue was re-opened when the High Court last year ordered a second public inquiry, which was held in November.

Both sides were awaiting the outcome when Statoil and Stratkraft, the Norwegian renewable energy companies which took over the Dudgeon project last year, said yesterday they were withdrawing the appeal against the original planning decision.

Simon Fowler, chairman of Little Dunham Parish Council, said: 'I am delighted on behalf of the village that our long struggle has been successful.

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'It's a triumph for local democracy. My main delight is for the village. It shows that you have got to stand up when you have something that is completely in the wrong place.'

He added: 'I know that one or two people have wanted to move out of the village but have been advised by estate agents not to put their houses on the market because it's had a depressing effect on prices.

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'To a certain extent, life in the village has been slightly on hold, but on the other hand it has brought the community together.'

He also welcomed the support of Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman during the process.

The applicants are now expected to build a substation just south of the A47 in Necton, a site which Breckland councillors gave planning permission for last October, despite the opposition of the parish council

Parish clerk James Watling said: 'When they got the planning permission for the south of the A47 we pretty much guessed they would go with the Necton site and the parish council has accepted the fact and we now work together with them to make sure the construction goes on as smoothly as possible and with as little disruption to residents as possible.'

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