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MP rebukes planners and ministers over unpopular windfarm substation proposal

PUBLISHED: 12:30 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:59 17 September 2018

George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

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Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has ripped into the planning system and knocked government ministers out of frustration over proposals to site a windfarm substation in his constituency.

The existing substation at Necton for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm. It will have to treble in size for two new Vattenfall wind farms being built offshore, sparking protests in Necton. Photo: StatoilThe existing substation at Necton for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm. It will have to treble in size for two new Vattenfall wind farms being built offshore, sparking protests in Necton. Photo: Statoil

Mr Freeman has penned a strongly-worded letter to the Planning Inspectorate over the scheme, which would see the future Norfolk Vanguard offshore windfarm linked in to the National Grid via a substation on a hill at Necton.

Mr Freeman labelled the plans for the wind farm by Swedish power giant Vattenfall: “an insult to local consultation”.

He said: “Is it any wonder that trust in our planning system is at an all-time low when the voice of local communities like the villages in Mid Norfolk are ignored by giant companies like Vattenfall?

“Ministers need to wake up and realise that the planning system is broken.”

Vattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: VattenfallVattenfall's offshore Norfolk Vanguard project promises to be one of the largest in the world. Picture: Vattenfall

Mr Freeman called the substation siting a “lazy, get-rich-quick abuse of planning” which he vowed to “fight all the way”.

He added: “Not one minister has even visited the site of this power station which will become the world’s largest offshore wind power station - dumped by lazy developers on top of a hill impacting five villages, instead of going in a low lying area properly shielded.”

But a Planning Inspectorate said there had been ample opportunity for the public to give their views through the application’s examination process.

The spokesman said: “Before accepting a nationally significant infrastructure project application for examination, the Planning Inspectorate seeks the views on the adequacy of the applicant’s public consultation.

George Freeman. Picture: Ian BurtGeorge Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

“Throughout the examination there are many opportunities for the public to be involved and give their views.

“They can do this either at public hearings arranged by the Planning Inspectorate or by making a relevant written representation.”

When up and running in the mid-2020s, Vanguard’s 1.8GW capacity will produce enough power a year to meet the equivalent electricity demand of 1.3 million UK households.

Representations can still be made - until September 16 - online at infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/norfolk-vanguard.

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