Traffic tops concerns over planned wind farm expansion

Kari Hege Mørk, project director of the planned expansions of Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon

Kari Hege Mørk, project director of the planned expansions of Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms off the north Norfolk coast. - Credit: Supplied by Equinor

An increase in traffic and threats to the environment top a list of concerns over an energy company's plan to massively expand two offshore wind farms. 

Norwegian firm Equinor has released a report into a survey they ran into its scheme to double the capacity of Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms, so that they could power 1.5 million homes. 

Energy firm Equinor is looking to expand its existing offshore wind farms off Cromer and Sheringham.

Energy firm Equinor is looking to expand its existing offshore wind farms off Cromer and Sheringham.   - Credit: Archant

Kari-Hege Mørk, Equinor’s project director, said of the consultation in which more than 300 people had their say: “We received lots of insightful feedback on our proposals and have been carefully considering all comments and suggestions. 

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to visit Norfolk in early 2022 to update communities on our refined proposals following the valuable feedback that was received."

In the consultation, 16.9pc of responses raised concerns over traffic and access during construction; followed by ecology (14.9pc); visual impact (13.8pc) and noise and vibration from construction (13.4pc).

A size comparison showing the planned new

A size comparison showing the planned new wind turbines to be built next to the exiting turbines off the north Norfolk coast. - Credit: Equinor

Addressing to the traffic concerns, Equinor said it had doubled the number of proposed trenchless road crossings, and repositioned a number of construction access locations to meet landowner requests, avoid ecological features and ensure road safety.

A spokesman said they had also committed to accessing the substation from the A140, avoiding using the narrower B1113, except under "exceptional circumstances".

In response to concerns over the environment, Equinor said it had refined the project's boundary to exclude features such as ponds, badger setts and trees with bat roost potential.

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People also questioned whether there would be any health effects from electromagnetic fields (EMFs)  from the onshore cables, to which the firm said: "EMFs fall rapidly with distance from the source, and the electric field is shielded in order to remain significantly below guideline EMF levels for public health protection."

As well as the additional 30-56 wind turbines - which could be taller than the Eiffel Tower at their full height of up to 330m - the project will involve laying underground cables the 60kms from Weybourne on the coast to a new substation near the Norwich Main Substation at Stoke Holy Cross, south of the city. 

Equinor plan to make its final application for the project to the Planning Inspectorate next summer. If granted, construction would take place some time between 2024 and 2032.

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