The go-ahead for a huge wind farm off the Norfolk coast has been hailed by the energy industry – but met with despair by some villagers.
The Vanguard wind farm will be built 30 miles off the coast of Happisburgh by Swedish energy firm Vattenfall.
It will include 158 turbines and generate enough energy to power almost two million homes and create a total of 400 jobs when work is at its peak, Vattenfall said.
Danielle Lane, Vattenfall’s UK offshore wind manager, described it as a “great step forward in the battle against climate change”.
But said: “The UK has to go much further, much faster, if it’s going to reach its net-zero targets.” Hugh McNeal, chief executive of industry body RenewableUK, said investing in renewable energy was crucial to get the UK economy moving again.
But the plans met fierce local opposition and were recommend for rejection by an expert planning panel.
However, Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, approved the wind farm on Wednesday.
A major area of opposition is the need to dig a cable trench across the countryside – from Happisburgh to Necton – to connect the wind farm to the National Grid.
Residents in Cawston, where the trench will pass, are concerned about the impact of heavy goods vehicles carrying cables through the village.
Ray Pearce, from Salle, near Cawston, who has opposed the plans, said: “It [the infrastructure] is very bad for the environment and the people of Norfolk.
“It will impact landowners, transport and tourism. We are facing adverse affects for years to come.”
Elliot Marks, owner of All Things Nice cafe and deli in Cawston, said: “I’m not against wind energy, but the correct infrastructure needs to be put in place.”
People living in Necton, near Swaffham, are also worried over the impact of a proposed substation to be built off the A47 close to the village.
Campaigner Jenny Smedley described it as a “hollow victory” for Vattenfall.
Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew said the government had to perform a “balancing act”.
“We need to increase our offshore wind capacity and minimise the impact to the people of Norfolk and environmental disturbance,” he said.
While a site suggested by Necton residents for the substation was rejected in favour of one closer to the village, Ruari Lean, project manager for Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm, said: “We make every effort to engage with people who live where we operate and have listened carefully to local residents’ feedback about the location of the onshore project substation.
“That feedback has been incorporated into the overall plans for Vanguard and Boreas.
“The fact that planning consent has been awarded reflects our approach and confirms that the infrastructure has been sensitively positioned using the existing landscape to screen the infrastructure effectively from residents in Necton and nearby communities.”
Addressing concerns about the Mr Lean the impact of HGV lorries carrying cabling through
Cawston to Oulton, Mr lean said: “As with the construction of all major infrastructure, there will be some interruption but we have designed a scheme to keep disruption to an absolute minimum.”
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