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Fishermen protest over windfarms

PUBLISHED: 08:25 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:36 07 July 2010

Fishermen fearing for their livelihoods yesterday protested against plans for two new windfarms to be built off the north Norfolk coast.

About a dozen fishermen stood outside the Corn Exchange in King's Lynn, where the proposals for wind- farms in Race Bank and Docking Shoal, eight to 16 miles north of Wells, were being exhibited.

Meanwhile fishermen fearing for their livelihoods on Tuesday have protested against the windfarm plans.

About a dozen fishermen stood outside the Corn Exchange in King's Lynn, where the proposals were being exhibited.

They held placards and voiced concerns that the farms, which would dwarf the current farm in The Wash and have up to 383 turbines, would have a disastrous impact on shellfishing.

It was feared that the project, proposed by Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, would take away valuable fishing ground and have a negative effect on marine life.

They also said there had not been adequate consultation with the fishing community about the placement of the farms and a cable used to link the farms to the National Grid.

Paul Garnet, a shrimp fisherman whose family have been in the trade for more than 100 years, said the farms would stop boats being able to pass through to other fishing areas.

“It's also an area of conservation and a nursery ground for fish stock. It just doesn't add up - this will do more damage just to generate some electricity,” said Mr Garnet.

“The main reason the government is pushing offshore windfarms is because people don't want them near their houses. We are looking at our livelihood being eroded.”

Shrimp fisherman Brian Minister added: “Currently we can fish anywhere in The Wash - putting this cable straight through The Wash is restricting where we can fish.”

Centrica public affairs manager Neville Barltrop said: “A lot of it is down to misunderstanding. The fishermen need to look at the studies but also ask us if they have specific questions. We are doing everything we can to communicate and we produce regular newsletters to the fishing community about the projects.”

He said that consultation had been ongoing for more than two years, and would continue throughout the project, and compensation was available for people who had been adversely affected by the farms.

“We look at goodwill payments if there has been genuine disruption, but you can avoid this with planning and consultation,” he said.

Mr Barltrop also refuted worries that the cable would stop boats from fishing in The Wash and that it could create an electro-magnetic field that would disturb the fish.

“Experience shows it hasn't been a problem as the cable will be buried to a certain depth,” he said.

He added that there would be adequate distance between the turbines for boats to pass through and it would only cause problems in severe weather, when the fishermen would not be out anyway.

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