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Norfolk MP attacks substation plan

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An MP has described proposals to build a major new substation in a village near Swaffham as “bonkers”.

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman has accused the developers behind the project in Necton of not properly consulting the community over its proposals.

But the company which hopes to build the plant has denied the claim and says it has amended its plans in order to reduce their impact, in response to comments from local people.

The row follows three days of hearings held by a government planning inspector on plans for two large off-shore windfarms, known as Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas, off the county’s coast and their associated on-shore infrastructure including the Necton scheme.

Opponents say an initial substation there could be one of the biggest in the world and a second could be built if the second windfarm planned by Vattenfall UK is given the go-ahead.

Mr Freeman addressed an open hearing on the schemes in Norwich on Wednesday night, having cancelled a Parliamentary adjournment debate on the issue.

George Freeman MP
George Freeman MP

In a statement published on his website, he said: “Both the local communities and I have grave concerns about a number of aspects of the current proposals.”

He claimed the company’s consultation had failed to properly engage local people “resulting in a set of proposals in Necton that just about everybody locally who has looked at them thinks is bonkers.”

He said many MPs, from across the political spectrum, are concerned about a lack of proper planning for how off-shore wind farms are connected to the National Grid.

He added: “Given that UK energy billpayers and taxpayers are paying billions in subsidies to fund these offshore wind farms, I believe that the least local communities can expect is to be properly consulted on where the onshore infrastructure is situated, and how it is delivered.

“We need a proper connection plan, and I am firmly committed to continuing to pursue this both locally and in Parliament.”

But Ruari Lean, senior development manager for Norfolk Vanguard, said: “Like any power, you need cables and electrical infrastructure to transmit and connect it from where it is generated to the consumer.

The Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm would generate enough low cost, renewable electricity for more than four per cent of UK homes.

“We have been listening carefully to feedback from local people and landowners living and working near our proposed onshore infrastructure, technical specialists and consultees whose role it is to scrutinize, advise and protect.

“As a result, we have made important changes to our proposals. These changes have the effect of minimising impacts overall, our number one priority.”

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