Public inquiry looms over Weybourne to Great Ryburgh cabling for �1.5bn Dudgeon windfarm

A date has been set for an inquiry into the refusal of 28km of buried cabling that is crucial to the development of a �1.5bn windfarm off the north Norfolk coast.

The public inquiry will start on May 24 - but will not be opposed by North Norfolk District Council, which triggered the hearing by refusing the cabling earlier in the year.

The council sparked anger in March when its development committee voted to 'invite the inspector to grant planning permission' after its full council concluded that it did not have the money to defend the refusal.

It means it is likely that the inspector will find in favour of Warwick Energy, which wants the cabling from Weybourne to Great Ryburgh to transport the power generated by its proposed Dudgeon offshore windfarm.

The cabling for the Breckland District Council part of the route, from Great Ryburgh to Little Dunham, has already been approved.

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It is understood that the time set aside for the public inquiry has been cut from the initial six days to four days - which will include the inspector's day-long tour of the cable route on the final day.

Warwick Energy is planning to use two experts to argue its case and it is known that a number of landowners maintain their opposition to the cable route; they are likely to ask the inspector to consider their previous submissions.

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The council is expected to address the inspector on two issues: asking for strong conditions to ensure the cabling trenches are not left open for long, to protect the productivity of agricultural land, and requesting that it does not have to meet Warwick's legal costs.

Mark Petterson, Warwick's project director, said: 'I think most people were surprised that the buried cables were turned down on landscape grounds. Now that the council has belatedly agreed, I would be surprised if we lost the appeal.'

When the district council voted to not defend the appeal, councillor and Holt businessman Michael Baker said it was a 'sad day for democracy'.

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