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Wind farm firm will NOT pay for Happisburgh sea defences

PUBLISHED: 07:52 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:32 11 July 2018

Coastal erosion at Happisburgh. Picture: Ian Burt

Coastal erosion at Happisburgh. Picture: Ian Burt

Hopes of an energy company funding sea defences to protect Happisburgh’s rapidly eroding cliffs have been dashed.

Swedish energy firm Vattenfall wants to bring cables from one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms ashore at the village.

The project would involve years of work and had led some in Happisburgh to hoping that Vattenfall, which plans to build two wind farms around 50 kilometres off the coast, would make a contribution to beach defences.

But Ruari Lean, project manager for Vattenfall, said: “We support local efforts to manage erosion on the Norfolk coast - both in terms of mitigation and adaptation - but currently we have no plans to financially support coastal protection efforts.”

Happisburgh, with its ageing defences, is predicted to lose 50 metres of cliff by 2035, according to consultants hired by Vattenfall. That is twice as much as nearby Walcott and Bacton where Vattenfall also looked at bringing cables ashore.

Happisburgh Parish Council had previously objected to Vattenfall’s plans, concerned they would weaken the cliffs.

But Mr Lean said Happisburgh was chosen because it had less environmental impact than the other sites.

Vattenfall will drill its cables under the cliffs, meaning, Mr Lean said, erosion rates would not worsen and the plan was “future-proofed”.

He added: “The high number of severe weather events, linked to climate change, may well be exacerbating a very worrying situation for local people.

Large wind farms are planned off the Norfolk coast. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire Large wind farms are planned off the Norfolk coast. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

“Climate friendly projects like Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas (the wind farms) will do their bit to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.”

Denise Burke, who lives in Happisburgh and is also on the parish council, said she was still hopeful Vattenfall would compensate the village and that money could possibly be used for sea defences.

Happisburgh’s defences are at the end of their lives and a caravan park on the cliffs is relocating inland.

When up and running in the mid-2020s, the Vanguard wind farm’s capacity will be enough to meet the equivalent electricity demand of 1.3 million UK households, Vattenfall said.

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