Energy company bosses have been urged to explore alternatives to building a large booster station which campaigners say would blight the north Norfolk countryside.
Danish firm Dong Energy is planning to build the Hornsea Project Three wind farm 120km off the Norfolk coast, bringing the electricity ashore near Weybourne, and linking it via underground cables to a substation south of Norwich.
A series of consultation events is currently under way to refine a 200m-wide cable corridor, details of which were published last month.
But campaigners say information about three potential sites for a High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) booster station – which would require an area of up to six acres and could be up to 12.5m high – was not included in the consultation leaflets.
Dong says the specifications and search area for possible booster stations were published previously and all details are on its website, but “this is the first time the information on the proposed onshore HVAC booster site options has been presented”.
Charles Inglis, whose land at Hole Farm in Hempstead, near Holt, is close to one of the potential booster station sites, said the developers should either consider using direct current (DC) – a technology still evolving for wind farms – which would not require an onshore booster, or build the station in a “less beautiful location”.
He said: “I think a lot of people have been lulled into a false sense of security from all the leaflets. They are being told it is a green project which is good, and the cable will have a temporary impact on the country and in a few years’ time you won’t know it is there. But a six-acre substation on our doorstep is there for life.
“The problem is that some of these locations are local beauty spots like Pond Hills Woods.
“Due to the locals not being informed I am concerned they will not attend Dong’s consultation events and voice their concerns.
“We want to put pressure on them (Dong Energy) to bring it in on a DC current, even if it is more expensive for them.”
A Dong Energy spokesman said: “We are already in dialogue with Mr Inglis and it’s encouraging to see people like him taking an active interest in our activities. We hope this will encourage more people to attend the events in March and follow up ones we plan in late summer this year, and engage in this process at this early stage.
“We strongly encourage more people to come forward with their feedback and any questions they may have at this stage, and have been utilising a variety of communication channels to pass on information to local communities and other interested parties.
“We understand that not everyone can attend the events so all the information presented at the events was made available on the website approximately two weeks before the events, and will remain on the website, and there are plenty of other ways to get in touch.
“We apologise if people feel this specific information about the proposed onshore HVAC booster station has been difficult to find, or not communicated well within the information we’ve distributed. This has not been our intention and we will take this feedback on board to ensure that people in the area are clear on what we are proposing, as we truly want to hear people’s comments on our proposal.”
IS A BOOSTER STATION NECESSARY?
Dong Energy says a booster station would be needed if a High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) electrical transmission system is selected, in order to mitigate against power losses between the offshore wind farm and the national grid connection point.
If the AC option is chosen, the booster station could be situated onshore and/or offshore to stabilise electrical transmission.
The company says it has not yet been decided if the project will use AC or DC (direct current), adding that DC technology is not yet utilised in UK offshore wind farms, as the technology is still evolving for wind energy.
The decision won’t be made until after consent is given, which is anticipated in late 2019 – so the company says it will apply for both options within its application.
REGISTER YOUR VIEWS
The remaining consultation events are:
• March 9, 4pm–8pm: Holt Community Centre, Kerridge Way, Holt.
• March 10, 2pm–6pm: Swardeston Village Hall, The Common, Swardeston.
For more information or to register your views, see the Dong Energy website.
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