The windfarm windfall... Energy firm pledges £15 million investment in Norfolk
- Credit: Archant
The firm planning to build two massive wind farms off the Norfolk coast has announced it is providing £15 million to fund community projects across the county.
Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has pledged the sum, which will be available throughout the 25-year lifetime of the proposed Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas wind farms.
The first round of funding is due to be available in late 2023, with people in Norfolk asked to decide how the money will be distributed.
Nearly 1,500 locals have already shared their views on how the funding could be spent, with projects focused on the environment and wildlife as well as jobs and skills emerging as key priorities.
Dr Catrin Ellis Jones, head of stakeholder and community engagement for offshore wind at Vattenfall, said: “People in Norfolk recognise that society needs to make changes to prevent climate change accelerating dangerously.
"This includes action at community and individual levels. We want to support communities to make change happen in their community and connect to what they love about Norfolk.”
“This funding will offer the potential to bring to life community ideas for tackling and adapting to climate change and will mean that communities can plan and think for the longer term with the certainty that a 25-year fund will be in place to support their vision."
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The investment, known as the Norfolk Zone Community Fund, will be managed independently of the firm, with Norfolk people taking the lead in how the money is allocated.
Vattenfall's offshore projects have not been without controversy.
The wind farms will require substantial parts of the Norfolk countryside to be dug up, to allow cables to be installed in trenches between Happisburgh and a substation inland at Necton.
In February this year, Raymond Pearce, from Reepham - who lives near the route of the proposed cable - won a high court battle that halted progress on the project, after arguing that planning processes were not adequate.
Vattenfall lost planning consent after the ruling but pledged to continue to push ahead with plans, which it hopes will provide green energy to two million homes each year.
Dr Jones added: "We know we can work together to build a positive legacy. This funding brings many possibilities and is one of many long-term investments in Norfolk."
The company is planning a series of community workshops to allow locals to get involved in the process of deciding how funds are spent. The first event is due to take place in the Necton area in January. People can register to take part in discussions here.