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Ruling on huge wind farm faces further delay

A ruling on whether one of the world’s biggest wind farms can be built off the Norfolk coast has been deferred for another month.
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Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: Vattenfall
1-6679705Ruari Lean, project manager of wind farm Norfolk Vanguard. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The deadline day for Norfolk Vanguard has now been set as July 1, after earlier being pushed back from December to today (June 1).

Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, made the decision to delay.

A statement from the Planning Inspectorate said: “The Secretary of State has decided to re-set the statutory deadline for this application to 1 July 2020.

“A statement confirming the new deadline for a decision will be made to the House of Commons and House of Lords in accordance with section 107(7) of the Planning Act 2008 as soon as possible.”

Swedish energy firm Vattenfall wants to build Norfolk Vanguard along with another wind farm called Boreas in the North Sea between Norfolk and the Netherlands.

Vanguard is a 1.8 gigawatt (GW) project, meaning it could supply power to around 1.3 million UK households.

The offshore wind farm will comprise 158 wind turbines, and will be 47km offshore at its closest point.

The project calls for the cabling to make landfall at Happisburgh and run over to a new substation to be built next to an existing one in Necton, between Dereham and Swaffham.

Danielle Lane, Vattenfall’s UK country manager, said: “Norfolk Vanguard is one of the most innovative and ambitious offshore wind projects in the world. Yet this is now the second time it has suffered a delay, despite addressing all of the major concerns raised during the planning process.

“Coming so soon after the decision on Norfolk Boreas was pushed back until October, the offshore wind industry will be left wondering about the Government’s intentions for this sector.

“We’re in a race against time to reduce emissions and need to respond to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, yet crucial infrastructure decisions are being put on hold.

“While we appreciate the added difficulties posed by the current lockdown, some of the largest engineering projects ever built - capable of providing clean energy security and a vital economic boost to the UK - remain in limbo. For every day that goes by without a decision, there are consequences for the next phase of the project, so it’s vital that there are no further delays.”

Ruari Lean, project manager for Norfolk Vanguard, added: “We are really disappointed - it is vital that there are no further delays.

“The world is in unprecedented circumstances, but we want to get the turbines turning in 2025.”

Jenny Smedley from the Necton Substations Action Group, which is campaigning for the different wind farm projects to link off offshore rather than running separate cables through the countryside, said: “What they are saying is that there are unresolved issues that will have to be resolved at some point. It may just be that the secretary of state hasn’t had time to make the decision. You start to wonder how many chances are they going to get to get it right before they’re told: ‘you’re obviously not capable of doing it?’ It’s frustrating.”

Professor Tony Barnett, from Corpusty and Saxthorpe Parish Council, said the council was concerned about the long-term health effects and welfare effects on residents that digging cable trenches through the countryside for each new wind farm project would have.

He said the energy firms had not responded to requests for a “proper assessment” of these matters.

Prof Barnett said: “We are not opposed to wind power; we are opposed to long lasting, fragmented, multiple, overlapping construction processes which do not take into account that this is a regional problem which requires an integrated regional solution rather than a series of unintegrated projects.

“This is bad planning for an urgent national demand for an environmentally important intervention.”

Another planned wind farm project, Hornsea 3, with cabling coming ashore at Weybourne, has also had its decision pushed back several times, and its new deadline is now July 3 as well.

To be built by Danish firm Orsted, that wind farm would consist of 231 turbines and at 2.4GW would be the world’s largest, with the capacity to power 2 million homes.




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