A public consultation for a huge wind farm has been dubbed “cosmetic” by a community group – but the energy firm behind it insists it went beyond what was required.
Danish firm Orsted plans to build the biggest offshore wind farm in the world 120km off the north Norfolk coast at the same time as two other wind farms called Vanguard and Boreas, planned by energy company Vattenfall, are also being constructed.
But digging a 55km long cable corridor for the Hornsea Three wind farm, from Weybourne to south of Norwich, has sparked widespread concerns about the impact on the rural landscape, disruption from construction traffic and damage to wildlife.
Earlier this week, Orsted said the construction work could take eight years instead of 11, and the firm also finalised the route of the 80-metre wide cable corridor.
It is yet to decide whether to transmit the electricity to the National Grid via Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC), where no relay stations would be needed.
Godfrey Sayers, chairman of Friends of North Norfolk, said: “They have consulted as far as they are required to, but the consultation was cosmetic.
“They are not required to make a decision on which option, AC or DC, until they get permission by the Secretary of State.
“I’m cynical but I think they put forward the worst case scenario, so they could negotiate backwards from it. It’s the second Viking invasion. It’s very frustrating democracy seems very limited with a national infrastructure project.”
Stuart Livesey, project development manager, said: “We invest considerable time and resource into our consultations in the local area, having gone above and beyond what is required based on public feedback for the need for more information – such as the additional round of events we held throughout Norfolk in March last year.
“In the lead up to submission of our final plans, we will continue to engage in informal consultations with statutory bodies, landowners and local communities. We have been in contact with the Friends of Norfolk community group and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and will be providing a written response to their questions.”