Wind farm set to get backing, but calls made for construction compensation

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 August 2019 | UPDATED: 06:42 18 August 2019

Vattenfall want to build the Norfolk Boreas windfarm. Picture: Vattenfall

Vattenfall want to build the Norfolk Boreas windfarm. Picture: Vattenfall

© Ben Barden Photography Ltd.

A proposed wind farm off the coast of Norfolk is likely to be given the backing by councillors tomorrow - but they want pledges on compensation for people affected by its construction.

Catrin Jones, from Vattenfall. Picture: (Julian Claxton) CHVP and Vattenfall.Catrin Jones, from Vattenfall. Picture: (Julian Claxton) CHVP and Vattenfall.

Norfolk County Council also wants Vattenfall, the company looking to build Norfolk Boreas, to pressure the government to allow some electricity generated to be used locally.

The 1.8 gigawatt Norfolk Boreas Offshore Wind Farm would be a sister project to the Norfolk Vanguard scheme, currently being considered by the planning inspectorate after a public examination earlier this year.

The council's planning and highways delegations committee will be asked to support the principle of the Boreas project - which is a year behind the progress of its sister scheme.

The committee is being asked to consider two scenarios. One where the Vanguard project is built and the Boreas scheme uses the bulk of that scheme's infrastructure, such as buried cables from Happisburgh to a substation at Necton.

Eric Seward, Liberal Democrat county councillor for North Walsham East. Picture: Courtesy Eric Seward.Eric Seward, Liberal Democrat county councillor for North Walsham East. Picture: Courtesy Eric Seward.

The existing substation there would need to triple in size from 20,300 square metres to 65,250 square metres for the connection points of both schemes.

If Norfolk Vanguard is not built, but Boreas is, similar work to that needed for the first scheme would have to be done, but the Necton expansion would not be as big and it would expand in a westerly, rather than easterly direction.

Officers recommend approval in principle, subject to conditions around roads and surface water.

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But councillors are also likely to stress they would like to see some of the electricity generated made available locally. At the moment it all goes to the National Grid.

Liberal Democrat county councillor Eric Seward, who represents North Walsham East, says there should be a planning condition for sea defences to protect cliffs against erosion, along with money for communities hit by disruption.

And councillors are likely to seek further reassurances that the company is committed to having a base at Great Yarmouth - seen as a massive boost for the town.

Catrin Jones, Vattenfall's stakeholder engagement manager for the two projects, said: "We expect the formal examination of Norfolk Boreas to start in the autumn and we are working towards resolving any remaining issues, including with Norfolk County Council, by building on the positive resolution of concerns raised by stakeholders relating to Norfolk Vanguard on topics such as highways, employment and skills and commercial fishing.

"We work hard to avoid and minimise impact during construction, but where it is unavoidable and there is direct impact on normal activities, there will be appropriate compensation for affected parties.

"For example, as much of the cable corridor is located in open, agricultural land, discussions to agree appropriate recompense are well underway with interested farm businesses and landowners.

"Our work with the region's supply chain is picking up momentum and we are excited about the potential for local businesses to work with us on our projects.

"Notably we have reserved space at Peel Ports Gt Yarmouth for an operations base serving both wind farms. We expect this to spur further investment in the region's economy.

"Specifically on electricity distribution issues, Electricity System Operator, National Grid, and the regulator, Ofgem, are responsible for codes and regulations that govern the UK power network.

"Today, there are no planning or regulatory mechanisms through which direct 'infeeds' into the regional distribution network in Norfolk can be delivered."

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