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Huge windfarm scheme could be delayed by a year

A proposed £1.3bn giant windfarm off the north Norfolk coast could take a year longer than expected to generate power after plans for a sub-station in mid-Norfolk were rejected.

As reported in Tuesday’s EDP, Breckland councillors turned down an application from Warwick Energy to build the facility at Little Dunham, near Swaffham, which would put electricity created from the 168-turbine Dudgeon Offshore Windfarm on to the National Grid.

Warwick has now confirmed it will be launching an appeal against the decision.

But campaigners have vowed to carry on fighting – and mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman has criticised the actions of “aggressive” energy companies.

Breckland councillors voted seven to one to refuse the sub-station plans, although they did approve proposals to lay 17km of electrical cables for the windfarm, which will be 32km off Cromer.

The cables will run through 11 Breckland villages, crossing several roads, rivers and streams.

Mark Petterson, project manager for the Dudgeon windfarm, said the refusal of the sub-station would be appealed and added: “It was hoped that the windfarm would commence generation by late 2014. The need to appeal the sub-station decision could now delay the project by around one year, subject to the success of the appeal.”

He said the site at Dunham had been “carefully chosen” from more than 100 possible alternatives and would be screened by 20 acres of woodland.

The windfarm would generate enough electricity for about 400,000 homes and the sub-station plans have been supported by Shaping Norfolk’s Future.

Chief executive Chris Starkie said: “Norfolk is leading the way in development of offshore wind which offers huge potential in terms of energy supply and the creation of green jobs. This project is a vitally important part of the overall 
plan.”

But Mr Freeman welcomed Breckland’s decision and said there had to be better ways of getting power on to the grid.

“I am delighted that Breckland listened to the arguments put by myself and others and have rejected this application which would have been more credible if it had taken the landscape, amenity and local community impact issues more seriously.”