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Vattenfall's Norfolk Boreas wind farm gets government go-ahead

A huge wind farm off the Norfolk coast has been given the go-ahead, after business and energy secretary Kaswi Kwarteng granted it permission.
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Vattenfall's Norfolk Boreas wind farm has been granted permission. Picture: Vattenfall

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall was told that it would be granted a development consent order for its Norfolk Boreas wind farm, 50 miles offshore.

That has been hailed as an economic boost for Norfolk, creating jobs, boosting businesses and placing the region at the forefront of the burgeoning renewable energy sector.

But it will also bring disruption to communities and went against the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, who had said permission should not be granted.

The inspectorate had said: "Of greatest concern to the examining authority is the adverse effects of the proposed development on a range of nationally and internationally designated marine biodiversity, marine biological environment and offshore ecological assets.

"The level of harm resulting from adverse effects of the proposed development on benthic ecology and offshore ornithology is considered to warrant substantial weight against the making of the order."

The inspectorate also gave "medium" weight against making the order because of the impact on traffic and transport and on the landscape.

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But Mr Kwarteng decided the benefits from the development, including the contribution it would make towards meeting the national need for energy, outweighed those concerns.

The letter granting the development order stated: "For the reasons given in this letter, the secretary of state considers that there is a strong case for granting development consent for the Norfolk Boreas Offshore Wind Farm.

"Given the national need for the development, as set out in the relevant National Policy Statements, the secretary of state does not believe that this is outweighed by the development’s substantial adverse impacts, as mitigated by the proposed terms of the order.

"The secretary of state has therefore, in the light of information received following receipt of the examining authority's report, decided not to follow the recommendation not to make the order and instead to make the Order granting development consent."

What will it mean?

Vattenfall says the Boreas wind farm - and a second scheme called Vanguard - could power more than 3.9 million homes in the United Kingdom.

However, the projects are controversial, with concerns over the impact on the Norfolk countryside caused by the construction of multiple substations and the trenches which will need to be dug for cables.

Danielle Lane, country manager for Vattenfall said: "This decision is a win for Norfolk and a win for the climate.

"It means a multi-billion investment in the UK which will keep the East of England at the forefront of the green energy revolution.

"There will be a wealth of supply chain opportunities for companies, as well high skilled green jobs, coming directly to Norfolk.

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"This project, alongside its sister project Norfolk Vanguard will be a world leading example of what well-coordinated energy delivery looks like, whilst making sure that low cost renewable energy is produced for UK consumers.

"We look forward to start work in the New Year with local communities, UK suppliers and our partners in Norfolk to bring this project to fruition and unlock its huge potential.”

The company has previously pledged a £15m community fund for projects in the county.

Businesses welcome jobs boost

The green light was hailed by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) , which represents companies involved in the energy sector.

Chairman Martin Dronfield said: "The decision taken by the secretary of state to grant permission for the Vattenfall’s massive offshore wind development to proceed off the coast of the East of England is the very best news for our region and indeed for the wider fight against climate change.

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"It will bring new jobs to the region, both for our young people and also for our existing workforce transitioning from other sectors.

"It will bring investment to our region as the supply chain clusters around the projects delivery hubs, and our ports are developed and it will leave a lasting legacy in our regions for generations to come.

"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 governments 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."

Simon Gray, executive director of policy and external affairs, 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."

There is no right of appeal to the order, but, potentially, opponents could seek a judicial review in the High Court - which would need to challenge the legality of the decision.

Sarah Richards, the Planning Inspectorate’s chief executive, said: "Local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to participate in the examination.

"The examining authority listened and gave full consideration to local views and the evidence gathered during the examination before making their recommendations."

A decision on Vattenfall's Norfolk Vanguard wind farm has yet to be made. The development consent order for that scheme was withdrawn and is being re-determined following a legal challenge by former RAF pilot Raymond Pearce.