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Offshore wind farms: Mass cabling and substation infrastructure under review

PUBLISHED: 11:42 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 25 February 2020

Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, off the Norfolk coast, has been at the centre of offshore energy growth. Picture: Alan O'Neill

Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, off the Norfolk coast, has been at the centre of offshore energy growth. Picture: Alan O'Neill

CHPV Offshore Energy Media Services, Orbis Energy, Wilde Street, Lowestoft,NR32 1XH 0044 1502 0500272

A Norfolk council has joined calls for new technology to offset the onshore impact of offshore wind farms.

The two routes for new cable corridors for offshore windfarms across Norfolk. Image: ArchantThe two routes for new cable corridors for offshore windfarms across Norfolk. Image: Archant

Campaigners are already urging energy companies and the National Grid to develop an "offshore ring main (ORM)" where the wind farms come online at the coast rather than inland.

And North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), working in partnership with East Suffolk Council, has written to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to express its concerns about the impact of proposed onshore National Grid cable connections.

Under proposed plans, the North Norfolk and East Suffolk local authority areas will see about 40pc of the UK's offshore wind generation achieve landfall in their districts and connect with National Grid infrastructure via onshore cable connections.

And a NNDC spokesman said it shared the concerns of residents, tourism and agricultural businesses that the number of cable corridors and grid-related infrastructures would cause intrusive and avoidable impacts.

An unofficial mock-up of what the planned substation at Necton could look like, created by Julian Pearson, from the parish council in nearby Holme Hale. For scale, Mr Pearson has added a London double decker bus (centre). Image: Julian PearsonAn unofficial mock-up of what the planned substation at Necton could look like, created by Julian Pearson, from the parish council in nearby Holme Hale. For scale, Mr Pearson has added a London double decker bus (centre). Image: Julian Pearson

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The letter proposes that the government explore the development of an ORM, which would connect to the National Grid through one single cable connection, potentially saving the countryside from widespread infrastructure works delivered over many years.

Council leader Sarah Bütikofer said: "We are the guardians of this beautiful area, and we have an important role to play in balancing the needs of addressing the immediate climate threat, with protecting the north Norfolk countryside and community. We need to find smarter ways of working together for the benefit of all."

The council's move has been welcomed by Jenny Smedley, from Necton Substations Action Group, which has been campaigning against the corridors.

She said: "What it shows is that people are listening, and that it does not just affect an odd village, but everywhere. If you are going to put 12 more offshore wind farms off the coast, then cabling across Norfolk for everyone is not the solution."

It comes after the government again delayed a ruling on whether two of the biggest wind farms in the world could be built off the north Norfolk coast.

Ørsted's Hornsea Three and Vattenfall's Norfolk Vanguard projects will now be decided on by June 1.


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