By K Dexter
Local pressure has resulted in a quickly-arranged drop-in exhibition in Reepham concerning another offshore wind farm, which is scheduled to be held at the end of next month. Designed to outline the Norfolk Vanguard project, the event will take place on Thursday 30 March in Reepham Town Hall, Church Street, Reepham, from 1–5.30 pm.
Concerns had earlier been expressed by residents and landowners about the possibility of more underground cables that are planned to carve through the Reepham countryside, with the town initially not appearing in the list of venues for a second round of consultations.
This news follows the announcement of the proposed underground cable route for Dong Energy’s offshore wind farm, which could also pass through the Reepham district (read story HERE).
The Norfolk Vanguard offshore wind farm project, located 47 km off the Norfolk coast, is being developed by Vattenfall.
According to the Swedish state-owned energy company, the project could produce up to 1.8 GW of energy, enough to power 1.3 million homes a year, making it one of the largest offshore wind farms in the UK. (Vattenfall is also planning a further, separate wind farm of the same size off the Norfolk coast called Norfolk Boreas.)
A first round of drop-in exhibitions was held in October at locations throughout Norfolk, including North Walsham, Aylsham, Dereham, Norwich and Great Yarmouth. These sessions were designed to introduce the project and explain the implications for the Norfolk landscape and local people.
Following consultations with the government’s Planning Inspectorate and statutory consultees and in response to feedback from the drop-in events, Norfolk Vanguard has now refined the onshore underground cable route, with a 700-metre-wide corridor revealed in a report published in January.
The refined search area covers the possible site where the power will be brought to the shore between Bacton and Eccles-on-Sea, along the proposed route of the 60 km of underground cables that will connect to the existing National Grid substation at Necton.
The proposed cable route will affect the Reepham district, cutting north of the town through Kerdiston, then between Reepham and Salle and on to Cawston.
The route cuts across the B1145, crossing footpaths, ancient meadows and hedgerows. A more refined route not yet been released to the public shows that the route does not stick to field boundaries, but instead cuts straight across arable fields.
Following the Secretary of State’s decision on the application expected in mid-2019, construction work is due to take place between 2020 and 2026.
The cable corridor will consist of a temporary access track, trenches and a storage area for the excavated material. It could be 40–80 metres in width (about as wide as an eight-lane motorway) with two trenches if high-voltage direct current (DC) is used or six trenches for high-voltage alternating current (AC). Each trench will be 1.2 metres wide. The land will be infilled and reinstated following installation of the ducts.
However, concerns have been expressed about the disruption to roads and footpaths, the potential effect on local businesses, such as cafés and pubs, as well as tourism, and changes in the tranquil nature of Reepham, albeit only for a few years during the construction period.
A second round of drop-ins for the Norfolk Vanguard project will run from 20 March to 1 April. Besides the event in Reepham, there will also be sessions in Dereham, Norwich, Aylsham, Happisburgh, Necton, North Walsham, Great Yarmouth and Bacton.
The Norfolk Vanguard project team is encouraging local people to get in touch with their views and queries about the onshore cable route and its implications. Vattenfall said it is important that the project works closely with local residents and landowners to discuss ways to minimise damage and disruption.
Vattenfall Vanguard’s local liaison officer Sue Falch-Lovesey welcomed local people’s attendance at the Reepham drop-in exhibition on 30 March or any of the other locations. “At the next round of drop-ins our focus will be on how we continue to search for and refine the best locations for onshore infrastructure, and feed in views to contribute to this decision-making process,” she said.
Following this next informal drop-in programme, Vattenfall will commence its statutory consultation events in November.
Vattenfall’s next newsletter, which will contain more updates and details of how people can shape these proposals, will be available from 6 March.
- Contact: Sue Falch-Lovesey, Local Liaison Officer, Vattenfall Vanguard. Tel: 07817 544235. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
See our earlier story: