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Huge offshore wind farm gets green light

At least one of three huge wind farm projects planned to be built off the Norfolk coast will go ahead.

The government has approved plans for the Norfolk Vanguard wind farm, which is to be built east of Norfolk by Swedish energy firm Vattenfall.

And Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said he was “minded to approve” a second project, Hornsea Three, if he is satisfied with what the firm behind that project, Orsted, can tell him “on a number of specific issues”.

Danielle Lane, Vattenfall’s UK offshore wind manager, said: “This is a great step forward in the battle against climate change, to increase jobs and skills in the East of England, and for the offshore wind industry as a whole.

“The Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm will generate 1.8 gigawatts of clean electricity when built. That’s enough to power almost two million homes each year while saving over three million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – the same as taking approximately 1.6 million cars off the road.”

The offshore wind farm will comprise 158 wind turbines, and will be 47km offshore at its closest point.

The project calls for the cabling to make landfall at Happisburgh and run over to a new substation to be built next to an existing one in Necton, between Dereham and Swaffham.

Hornsea Three’s cabling would come ashore at Weybourne and connecting to the grid via a substation at Swardeston, south of Norwich.

That wind farm would consist of 231 turbines and at 2.4GW would be the world’s largest, with the capacity to power two million homes. A new deadline for that decision has been set at December 31.

Rather than having two separate cable trenches dug through the countryside – and potentially more if further wind farms are proposed – community groups and MPs have been calling for an investigation into the idea of an offshore ring main (ORM).

This would mean the wind farms could link up their cabling off shore, and run their power to the grid via one cable corridor.

But Vattenfall and Orsted have dismissed the concept as inviable.

Vattenfall also wants to build another wind farm, Boreas, next to Norfolk Vanguard, and a decision on that one is due on October 12.