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‘David and Goliath’ battle sees major Norfolk windfarm plans halted

An extraordinary high court ruling has been likened to a “David and Goliath” struggle after one of the world’s biggest planned wind farms lost its planning consent.

The high court has overturned planning permission for Norfolk Vanguard set to be built off the Norfolk coast.

Raymond Pearce took legal action against the government which had granted permission for energy giant Vattenfall’s project to go ahead.

And in the high court Judge Holgate sided with the Reepham man who objected to the planned pipeline being installed just feet from his house.

But Vattenfall has called the ruling a “blow” for Norfolk which will stall plans for thousands of new jobs and investment in the region.

And the Swedish firm has vowed that this ruling does not spell the end of the project.

Danielle Lane, Vattenfall head of market development offshore and UK country manager, said: “We still very much believe that this is a good project which will help to combat the climate change crisis – and we have been reiterating this message to businesses in our supply chain which have been concerned about the judgement.

“This is absolutely not the end of the project but this ruling is extremely frustrating given the government’s green agenda.

“This is a blow for Norfolk. We had had some very productive conversations with stakeholders such as education providers and still hope to create highly skilled long-term jobs in the region.

“This will have a knock-on impact on Vanguard’s sister project Boreas, as we will now be waiting on the government to appeal this decision so we can move forward.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “We are disappointed by the outcome but we will be considering the judgment carefully before deciding next steps.”

Former RAF pilot Mr Pearce said he was entirely supportive of the green energy agenda but stated he was forced into legal action because he believed Vattenfall’s plans had failed to deliver the windfarm in the most efficient way.

He said: “It is so important that we do this in the right way for Norfolk and its people. I would like to see the grid built offshore instead of kilometres of the country side being ripped up for cables.

“We have to look at the long-term agenda and the carbon impact – installing these less efficient routes and substations inland would mitigate the impact of the turbines for years to come.

“I do not see this as the end of the windfarm – nor the jobs they would bring. I see this as an opportunity for Vattenfall to do some pioneering work in the offshore transmission network and potentially create more jobs in maintaining that network.

“This may delay the project by a year or two – but it would ensure the network is more environmentally friendly and efficient in the long term.”

Vattenfall said offshore grids were not suitable for either Vanguard or Boreas, as the technology was in such early stages of conception that the most efficient way of delivering both the Norfolk projects was by doing so with onshore networks.

Mr Pearce added: “Green energy is the new frontier now that we have turned away from gas and oil and we need to ensure that it is done with the environment in mind.

“It might be my name on the motion but – although I am not an elected representative – I know I speak for people in Norfolk when I say that this was them standing up for their county. This has been a David and Goliath battle. A lot of people have pledged their expertise and personal funds to getting us to this judgement.”