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MP's fears over 'radioactive risk' on land wind farm firm wants to dig up

PUBLISHED: 10:21 19 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:20 19 December 2018

Necton F16 plane crash, 12th December 1996. Photo: Archant Library

Necton F16 plane crash, 12th December 1996. Photo: Archant Library

Archant Library

An MP has raised fears about an energy firm digging up land which was contaminated after a fighter jet crash.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian BurtMid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

As reported in August, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) previously warned of a “radioactive substance risk” on the farmland near Necton following the 1996 accident.

The Danish F-16 crashed into the sugar beet field shortly after taking off from RAF Marham. Two pilots ejected and survived.

That land is now due to be dug up to connect an offshore windfarm to the National Grid at Necton.

But fresh evidence from campaigners, the Necton Substations Action Group, shows a much larger site, which energy firm Vattenfall wants to excavate to build two new substations, could have been contaminated in the crash.

Campaigners have written a report based on MoD documents in which they claim: “The worst case scenario must be adopted – which is that contaminants may remain in the soil at a deep level, and any disturbance could create an environmental disaster.”

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has now written to Breckland Council with his concerns after viewing the dossier.

“It now appears that the entire site in question could potentially be contaminated, increasing the already very serious risks posed by construction in the area,” Mr Freeman said. “Residents must not be put at risk.”

The decision on whether the project gets the go-ahead will be taken by the Planning Inspectorate and Mr Freeman urged them to consider the evidence.

EDP front page from Necton F-16 plane crash in December 1996. Photo: ArchantEDP front page from Necton F-16 plane crash in December 1996. Photo: Archant

Vattenfall did not know about the crash until being told about by campaigners.

It means it is not referred to in the environmental assessment it has produced for the Planning Inspectorate.

But Ruari Lean, from Vattenfall, said the assessment was “robust”.

He said: “We did receive anecdotal reports of the crash shortly before submission of our application, but publicly available information did not verify details of the crash or its location.

The F-16 which crashed at Necton. The photo was taken the day before the crash.  Photo: Archant LibraryThe F-16 which crashed at Necton. The photo was taken the day before the crash. Photo: Archant Library

“Our application does... set out the approach to assessing potential contaminated sites which would be undertaken post-consent, and which will be approved by the Local Authority in consultation with the Environment Agency.“

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