North Norfolk District Council set to complete u-turn on Weybourne windfarm cables

A council looks set to abandon its opposition to 28km of buried cables to serve a �1.5bn offshore windfarm - despite opponents branding it a 'sad day for democracy'.

Last month, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) decided it did not have the money required to fight an appeal by Warwick against its earlier decision to refuse permission for the cabling across its patch.

And on Thursday, the council's development committee is being recommended to not defend the looming appeal and to 'invite the inspector to grant planning permission'.

The change of heart has arisen because the decision to refuse permission for the cables went against the planning officers' recommendation.

It means the officers could not defend the council at appeal - leaving members to do it and 'very significantly' increasing the possibility of defeat and six-figure costs against NNDC, according to advice from counsel.

Breckland District Council has already allowed a similar application for 17km of cabling in its area, which would link the Dudgeon windfarm to a planned sub-station in the Dereham area.

Last month's decision by NNDC to not pay to defend an appeal by Warwick was attacked in the immediate aftermath by councillor and local businessman Michael Baker, who voted to reject the cabling application.

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He said: 'The decision at full council was a sad day for democracy. The development committee decision was democratic and we have been told 'this is not the answer we want: go back and think again'.'

But Mark Petterson, project director for Warwick, said: 'You could argue the silent majority are finally getting their say. It's not as if this area is unknown to this type of project. You have got an established underground cable route from Sheringham Shoal, which has gone in without a problem.'

Warwick has claimed the 168-turbine farm would generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.

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