High Court rules Government must reconsider rejection of controversial substation in Little Dunham, near Swaffham
Plans to build a huge electricity substation in Little Dunham could be resurrected after the High Court today ordered ministers to reconsider their opposition.
Breckland councillors turned down a planning application for the farmland site 0.5km south of the village in October 2010 after vociferous objections from villagers.
The substation is designed to connect power generated at the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm to the National Grid.
The council’s decision, against advice from its planning officers, was upheld at a planning appeal in June and backed by the secretaries of state for energy and communities in September.
Warwick Energy, which is behind the wind farm and appealed against the ministers’ ruling, welcomed the decision, issued by the High Court in Manchester.
Project director Mark Petterson said: “We now ask the secretaries of state to determine our application without any further delay. Dudgeon is a vital infrastructure project for the UK and any further period of uncertainty may threaten its programme.”
Simon Fowler, chairman of Little Dunham parish council, said: “As we understand, the High Court has asked the ministers to reconsider their decision simply on a point of law.
“We see no reason why the ministers should overrule the decision of the planning inspector. He was the person who heard all the arguments in a two-day public hearing and determined that the proposed Little Dunham site was not suitable for a 42-acre industrial development of this size and nature.
“It should be remembered the local planning committee refused the original application, supporting the views of the local community, parish council, district councillor and our MP George Freeman that one of the largest substations in Europe should not be built on some of the highest land in Norfolk immediately adjacent to the village.”
The company is continuing to review options for an alternative substation site near Necton, with a public exhibition due to be held later this month, but said it ranked second behind Little Dunham.
A Government spokesman said: “We have now seen the judgment and will need to consider it carefully before deciding on the next steps.”
The departments will now consider the detailed ruling and decide whether to seek to take the matter to the Court of Appeal. If not, the appeal will re-determined by the secretaries of state Ed Davey and Eric Pickles.
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