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Necton sub-station opposition does not stop biggest offshore wind farm in world

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A huge controversial offshore wind farm that will be piping electricity all the way to a sub-station in Necton has been approved by the Government today.

Business and energy secretary Kaswi Kwarteng gave the green light to the development by Swedish energy giant Vattenfall, despite widespread opposition to the scheme from parish and town councils across Norfolk.

A total of 80 councils in the county made a last-gasp plea to the minister not to approve the Norfolk Boreas project, with a letter supported by 15 Independent councillors on West Norfolk Council.

Vattenfall wind turbines offer job opportunities here in West Norfolk. (53646032)
Vattenfall wind turbines offer job opportunities here in West Norfolk. (53646032)

The scheme, 50 miles offshore, will be the largest wind farm in the world. The opposition was not to the turbines but to the impact it will have on land. Connecting the power generated by the turbines to the National Grid will require 60km of underground cables dug into a trench-up to 80m wide, running from Happisburgh on the coast to a new substation at Necton.

Parish councils in West Norfolk which signed the letter were those at Necton, Ashill, Castle Acre, Crimplesham, Burnham Market, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Overy, Flitcham, Holme Hale, Narborough, North Runcton, Shouldham, Upwell and St Germans.

The secretary of state's decision went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, who had said permission should not be granted.

Thanet Offshore Wind Farm. Picture: Vattenfall (53646035)
Thanet Offshore Wind Farm. Picture: Vattenfall (53646035)

The Norfolk Parish Movement for an Offshore Transmission Network, which organised the protest letter, wanted the wind farm connected to the grid offshore - but Vattenfall said the technology does not exist for that.

Vattenfall has pledged to minimise impact to residents and wildlife and has outlined plans for a £15 million community pot for communities affected.

The OTN is concerned about traffic impact while work is carried out and what is describes as massive intrusion into the rural landscape by converter halls and associated infrastructure at Necton.

The East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) welcomed the decision.

Its chairman Martin Dronfield said: "EEEGR recognises the disruption that the development will cause in some areas of our region and applauds the efforts of Vattenfall to mitigate this disruption to peoples lives and to the local environment.

"Of course EEEGR also recognises that the effects cannot be completely removed and that there will be a price to pay to achieve the projects goals and as such we continue to support the efforts of the Government's Offshore Transmission Network Review to find a lasting solution to the effects of the current radial system of connecting wind farms. to the National Grid."

EEEGR director of policy and external affairs Simon Gray said: "This is a fantastic decision for our climate, for jobs, for the future of green energy, for our ports and for the supply chain and skills providers that will supply the equipment and skills to allow these wind farms to generate clean energy for decades to come.

"Whilst we understand the concerns of protestors to the cable routes and sub stations this decision had to go ahead to meet the governments commitment to the production of 40GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. We can now work on developing the technology and changes to legislation that will eventually develop the offshore infrastructure to allow for the potential construction of some form of offshore grid."

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