Town council signs up to coalition advocating ‘offshore ring main’

Reepham Town Council has agreed to join a coalition of parish councils fighting to stop the wind farm cable corridors that are threatening to carve up the countryside around Reepham, causing massive disruption to traffic and residents, it is claimed.

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At its meeting on Wednesday 13 October, the town council heard arguments put forward by Alison Shaw of Oulton Parish Council, who outlined the likely impact of construction traffic on communities living in Cawston and Oulton.
She said the Vattenfall and Ørsted wind farm projects situated off the north Norfolk coast would mean up to 424 vehicle movements every working day – from 7 am – 7 pm Monday–Friday and for 10 hours on Saturdays – during construction of the cable corridors that will connect the wind farms to two National Grid substations.
Meanwhile, Equinor’s proposed Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon Offshore Windfarm extension projects would result in additional traffic movements, she told the town council.
This could mean 8–10 years of disruption, especially for Oulton, where the construction depot is proposed, and Cawston, through which the vehicles will have to travel to access the “running track” on the B1145, west of Salle Bridge.
Ms Shaw added that there has yet to be any public scrutiny of the proposed cable crossover point to the north of Reepham parish.
In granting Danish company Ørsted development consent for its Hornsea Project Three offshore wind farm in January, former secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Alok Sharma acknowledged the “substantial” impact of traffic in Cawston and Oulton during construction but said mitigation measures would “satisfactorily reduce noise and disturbance for local residents to acceptable levels”.
However, Cawston parish councillor Chris Monk said the decision would result in gridlock for the village, with abnormal loads passing through and possibly closed footpaths, making it dangerous for pedestrians and other road users, as well as vehicles.
“This will also affect Reepham, as many workers’ transport and delivery vehicles will be coming through the town – residents will suffer,” he said.
A group of 30 Norfolk parish councils had called for the development decisions to be delayed pending discussions over wind farm developers joining together to build an integrated offshore transmission network (OTN or “offshore ring main”), which would eliminate the need for individual substations and cable corridors.
Reepham has now agreed to join this coalition of parish and town councils, which now numbers around 75.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is currently conducting a review of an OTN as an alternative to point-to-point grid connection.
MPs from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have set up the Off Shore Electricity Grid Task Force to review and respond to the government’s OTN review.
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