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Planning hearings held into impact of Norfolk offshore wind farm project

Planning hearings are set to be held into a project to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms – which could see the firm behind the scheme purchase a 50km corridor of countryside.

The planning inspectorate will hold a series of public hearings to examine the Swedish energy firm Vattenfall’s application to build the Norfolk Vanguard wind farm off the coast of Happisburgh.

The plans – if approved – could see the firm granted compulsory purchase orders for a narrow stretch of land crossing the county to join a National Grid substation at Necton.

Issue specific hearings are set to be held on environment matters, on Wednesday, March 27, at 10am, and on the firm’s draft development consent order, on Thursday, March 28, at 10am at Blackfriars Hall, Norwich.

While a compulsory acquisition hearing is set to take place at the same St Andrew’s Plain location at 3pm on the Thursday, with a further hearing scheduled, if needed, for 10am the following day.

The environmental impact of the plans will again be discussed on Wednesday, April 24, and Thursday, April 25, at locations and times yet to be confirmed, while an open floor hearing will take place in the evening of the Wednesday, with a venue and time also yet to be decided.

The planning inspectorate will also visit and inspect the sites where the wind farm will make landfall and connect to the substation next month.

The site inspections will take place at 10am at Happisburgh community car park, on Monday, March 25, and Necton community centre, on Tuesday, March 26.

Ruari Lean, Norfolk Vanguard project manager, said: “We have gone out to all landowners with land agreement offers, known as heads of terms, and already 74pc have responded positively.

“We would like to add to this number by the time the examination of Norfolk Vanguard is complete this summer.”

A Vattenfall spokesperson added: “The compulsory acquisition hearings will explore the powers sought, if needed, over the entirety of the project, from landfall to substation.

“There are one and a half days in the examiner’s programme for the hearings, which are open to the public.

“Anyone is entitled to attend.”

For more information, visit the planning inspectorate website for the Norfolk Vanguard project.