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Two more cable trenches could be dug across countryside for wind farms

The expansion of two wind farms off the Norfolk coast could lead to six years of construction work and the digging of another two cable trenches across the countryside.

Norwegian energy firm Equinor is leading a project to build 34 new turbines at Dudgeon wind farm, 30km from Cromer, and 27 turbines at Sheringham Shoal wind farm. The turbines would be up to 326 metres high.

Each project will bring more than 100MW of renewable energy, according to a report by Equinor outlining the plans.

They also said the projects would reduce carbon emissions, provide energy security and bring economic benefits.

They are looking to bring the cables ashore at Bacton and Weybourne and connect them to the National Grid south of Norwich at Swardeston.

But to do that they would need to dig 60km-long cable trenches from north Norfolk to Norwich which will lead to years of construction work and harm the environment, the report added.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb called on the Government to stop allowing energy firms to dig up the countryside for every new offshore wind farm.

“I’m supportive of these plans but strictly on the condition that the government and National Grid sort out a deal on creating an offshore ring main,” he said.

An offshore ring main would mean the wind farms could connect to the National Grid at the coast rather than needing the cable trenches.

Two other energy companies, Vattenfall and Orsted, are currently pushing ahead with plans to build three more offshore wind farms which will need two more cable trenches.

The trench for Sheringham Shoal would come down from Weybourne, head south to Cawston and meet the trench from the Dudgeon wind farm at Attlebridge.

The Dudgeon trench would run from Bacton, loop south around North Walsham and past Hevingham.

After meeting at Attlebridge, the two trenches would then head through the Wensum to Barford, then head east around Hethersett and join to the National Grid at Swardeston.

The report said the projects would impact sites of marine conservation and fishing.

Onshore, agriculture land and habitats would be lost. A consultation begins next year.

-‘Another nail in the coffin’

Jenny Smedley, from the Necton Substations Action Group, which has been campaigning against the cable corridors, warned the plans were “another nail in the coffin” for the Norfolk countryside.

“We’ve been trying to warn villages and their MPs and Parish Councils that all of Norfolk is under industrial attack and this proves we are right,” she said.

“Unless an offshore ringmain is adopted, it will only get worse and worse as more and more massive wind farm infrastructure is shoe-horned into Norfolk.

“Our roads can’t take the construction traffic, and no village, however pretty, however historical, however precious to its inhabitants is safe from destruction.

“We urge people to read the documents and see if their village is safe. But even if it is today it might not be tomorrow because this is just the start.”