West Norfolk councillors oppose offshore wind farm plans
Parish councils and borough councillors in West Norfolk have added their voice to a plea to block plans for the largest wind farm in the world to be built off the Norfolk coast.
More than 80 Norfolk towns and villages are asking the Energy Secretary to refuse planning consent for two farms which could provide power for up to four million homes.
They are not against the farms but are concerned about the impact they will have on rural communities. Connecting the power generated by the turbines to the National Grid will require 60 kilometres of underground cables dug into a trench-up to 80 metres wide, running from Happisburgh on the coast to a new substation at Necton.
Fifteen independent councillors on West Norfolk Council have also added their names to the objections.
Independent group leader, Terry Parish, said: “I was impressed by the efforts that have been made to unify parish council opposition to the developers’ proposals resulting in the 88 councils which are now signatories. My group agreed to join them."
A decision on the plans by Swedish energy giant Vattenfall is due in the next few days.
Mr Parish said: “The extensive parish council objections are not against the wind farms per se. I believe all concerned support the 'green’ energy generation but not the 60 km of onshore cabling and other infrastructure which will cause disruption to local communities and damage the ecology of land through which they pass.
"A judge in the High Court has ruled that the cumulative impacts of the scheme had not been fully assessed. Much of the cabling and infrastructure could be put in place off shore but it would cost more and take, perhaps, a little longer. However, profit has ever been put before people.
The Norfolk Parish Movement for an Offshore Transmission Network, set up by Oulton councillor Alison Shaw, calls it 'stone age' technology is asking the government instead to connect the wind farms off the coast – although the wind farm firms say is not yet possible and would take years to implement.
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.
Parish councils in West Norfolk which have joined the opposition, are those at Necton, Ashill, Castle Acre, Crimplesham, Burnham Market, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Overy, Flitcham, Holme Hale, Narborough, North Runcton, Shouldham, Upwell and St Germans.