Villagers from a rural community are jubilant after a plan to build a large electricity sub-station was rejected by Breckland Council.
The decision was made by the Development Control Committee at the council headquarters in Dereham, on Monday.
Nearly 100 protesters from Little Dunham and the surrounding villages attended the three-hour meeting where they displayed various signs against the controversial proposal which attracted more than 200 letters of objection and 1.500 signatures on a petition.
Councillors debated Warwick Energy’s application which, if passed, would have seen a sub-station developed on 9.3 hectares of land off Necton Road, in Little Dunham.
It would have been part of the proposed 560MW Dudgeon offshore wind farm, to be built off Cromer, which is a “nationally important project”, according to Warwick Energy’s project director Mark Petterson.
Once in the sub-station, the voltage would have been transformed before entering the National Grid.
The decision to refuse the plan was met with cheers and the stamping of feet from campaigners.
Committee councillors voted seven to one to reject the application because of the harm the sub-station would do to the landscape.
In an emotional speech Little Dunham parish councillor Emma Kriehn-Morris, said: “The application will destroy the essence or our village for this generation and future generations.
“The reality of this application has left the community in shock.
“We are a village which understands Norfolk needs to evolve, but this plan, by anyone’s standards, is grossly unacceptable.
“We as families have a responsibility to allow our children to grow up in a safe area.”
Simon Fowler, parish council chairman, added: “We are a village of fewer than 300 people and we feel very alone at the moment.”
Environmental science expert Paul Dennis told the councillors the development would be “out of character” and built on “strikingly high and flat terrain”.
“Little Dunham is astonishingly quiet and the proposal would have a devastating affect,” he added
peaking for the project Mr Petterson said the sub-station would create enough energy for 400,000 homes and the decision to build near the small village had been taken on environmental grounds rather than financial reasons.
He also defended the selection process for the desired site.
More than 100 areas had been investigated but five sites, all to the east of Swaffham, had been shortlisted as the best locations for the sub-station.
Mr Petterson said: “We didn’t put a pin in the map and tell them to build on it. The planning application has been through an extensive consultation process, contrary to suggestions.”
“I want to give you an assurance that we want to work with your officers on a design. “A screen would be fully effective and would enhance the natural wildlife.”
Plans to plant 20 acres of woodland around the sub-station were outlined to the councillors.
Committee member John Labouchere, said: “I feel as a Norfolk boy I don’t want to leave this council having contributed to the rape of this area of Norfolk.”
Another member, Frank Sharpe, added: “Like all businesses they (Warwick Energy) are going to look after their pennies – they have to. But if they looked into their hearts they could find a more appropriate place, tucked away, although it may cost them a few more pennies.”
At the end of the meeting Little Dunham Action Group member Paul Gardner, said: “We are delighted that the committee has supported the views of the local community. We are absolutely elated.”
Mr Petterson told the Lynn News: “We will have to review our position.
“The majority of people in Norfolk supported the proposal and Little Dunham was clearly the best site.”
At the same meeting the committee approved the company’s plan to lay 17km of underground electricity cables for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm which would cross 11 Breckland villages
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