A grandfather who fought to overturn permission for one of the world’s biggest offshore wind farms says he did it “for the people of Norfolk”.
Yesterday (February 18), the High Court quashed the Government’s decision to give the huge Vanguard offshore wind farm the go-ahead.
The case was brought by grandfather Ray Pearce, who argued that ministers had not considered the “cumulative impacts” of projects which would see dozens of miles of electric cables buried in the Norfolk countryside.
“I’m absolutely behind renewable energy and green energy,” said Mr Pearce. “We have to do it but we have to do it properly and it has to be co-ordinated.
“It’s not just a matter of everybody building a wind farm and connecting to the grid. There’s a better way of doing it.”
Mr Pearce – and several local MPs – have called for an offshore connection to the National Grid, rather than underground cables and a sub-station at Necton.
They say an “offshore ring main” could save the countryside from years of building work but power company Vattenfall said that idea was not ready to implement.
“In terms of the offshore ring main concept, it’s very much a concept,” said UK Manager Danielle Lane. “It’s a long way out. These projects are ready to go.
“They’re things that can bring real advantage and local benefit as well as contribute to the overall objective of this Government to deliver 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 and really make a difference to decarbonisation and climate change.”
The power company also points to the hundreds of local jobs created by the project.
Drone pilots HexCam, based at Felthorpe Airfield, have already seen that benefit – winning contracts for fly-through surveys.
“It’s going to have a knock-on effect,” said Director Andy Bodycombe.
“We’re all coming out of quite a difficult 12-month period and we were looking forward to working on a very exciting project so obviously there’s going to be disappointment and some anxiety about what’s going to happen next.”
Mr Pearce, who raised thousands of pounds to take the case to the High Court, said: “The people of Norfolk, who want to see their environment preserved, who want to see their children grow up in a rural environment not impacted by industrialisation, they don’t have a voice.
“The planning system is very much hedged against them being able to make an impact and have their say. For those people, that’s why I did this.”
Ministers must now decide whether to appeal the High Court judgement or re-determine the application.
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