An offshore windpower revolution being backed by the government has left local fishermen fearing for their futures.
A vision of building enough windfarms among the waves to power all the nation’s homes by 2020 was set out at the weekend by business secretary John Hutton.
And experts say East Anglia, with its windy inshore waters and growing role as a renewable energy hub, is likely to be a target for new windfarm sites. While some people welcomed the news as a multi-million pound economic boost, a local fishermen’s spokesman said it could spell disaster for the historic cottage industry. The existing round of windfarm building, including one off Sheringham, potentially put 2,500 turbines in the Greater Wash area.
Another wave would “leave fishermen with nowhere to go” said Ivan Large, chairman of both the North Norfolk Fishermen’s Society and Wells and District Inshore Fishermen’s Association, which together represent more than 100 fishermen between Brancaster and Yarmouth.
The areas affected by current and possible future windfarms were important crabbing grounds and breeding areas for herring and sand eels. Fishermen were concerned about the impact of sediment disturbance during construction, electro magnetic fields, and the risk of getting snagged on the turbines themselves.
“The authorities say we can fish around them, but it only takes a couple of accidents and there will be a 500m exclusion zone,” said Mr Large, who said fishermen were objecting to current windfarm plans including the Race Bank and Sheringham and Docking Shoals.
The news came as the Sheringham Shoal windfarm edged a step closer to reality after its underground cable on land won planning permission.
The windfarm of between 63 and 105 turbines 10-14 miles offshore, is due to be operational during 2011,
An underground cable connecting it to the national power grid was been backed by councillors last Thursday. The 13-mile cable running between Weybourne and Salle had drawn objections from Plumstead parish council and some local residents concerned about health risk from the cable running near homes, the effect on televisions and other electronic equipment and dust and noise from construction work.
However windfarm consortium Scira said all those issues were addressed in an environmental impact study – and North Norfolk District Council’s west area development control committee voted to approve the cable, which will run through Bodham, Baconsthorpe, Matlaske, Plumstead, Little Barningham, Itteringham and Corpusty.
Scira says cable construction will take 18-24 months, but last only a few weeks in each location.
12 December 2007
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