MP calls for debate to avoid ‘major environmental impact’ of offshore windfarm projects

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman speaking at the 2019 Norfolk Farming Conference in Norwich. Picture: Keiron Tovell

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman speaking at the 2019 Norfolk Farming Conference in Norwich. Picture: Keiron Tovell

Keiron Tovell

A parliamentary debate on offshore windfarms - which was cancelled so a Norfolk MP could attend a public meeting on the issue - has been rescheduled.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman had secured an end of day adjournment debate last month over where substations are built to serve new offshore wind farms in Norfolk, amid two major wind farm schemes off the county’s coast.

But he cancelled the debate at the last minute to rush back to Norwich to ensure he could take part into a planning enquiry on one of the projects.

Now it has been rescheduled for Monday.

Three of the biggest wind farms in the world are planned off the Norfolk coast.

The companies behind them say they will provide enough energy to power more than four million homes – the equivalent of five Sizewell nuclear power stations.

But the work to put in cables and substations will affect more than 200 landowners - and Conservative Mr Freeman has criticised the public engagement and has said there is a “total lack of any proper strategic plan for offshore wind energy in the east”.

Mr Freeman said he was supportive of the projects in principle but said rather than the idea that each wind farm will cable to its own substation inland, the National Grid and Crown Estate should be proactively looking to construct an offshore ring main that can pool the electricity generated before bringing it onshore via a main landfall station.

He said: “Instead of a proper strategic connection plan, we’ve got a chaotic free for all of major cables and substations coming, with major environmental impact.”

Company Vattenfall wants to build two wind farms, Vanguard and Boreas, 50km east of the coast at Happisburgh, while the wind farm, Hornsea Three, will be built 120km north of the Norfolk coast by Danish energy firm Orsted.

Cables from Hornsea Three would come ashore at Weybourne, while cables from Vattenfall’s two wind farms would reach Norfolk at Happisburgh.

Both would then need trenches up to 60 kilometres long to be dug across the Norfolk countryside to connect them to the National Grid. The Vattenfall development would see a substation at Nection, while Orsted’s scheme would require one at Swardeston.

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