Readers Letters: Wind farm will have environmental benefits but conditions must be met

Happisburgh coastal erosion. Pictures: Glenn Berry

Happisburgh coastal erosion. Pictures: Glenn Berry - Credit: Archant

Britain faces an energy crisis. And Happisburgh faces an erosion crisis. We need investment in renewable energy and we need investment in coastal defences. The proposed new wind farm off the north east Norfolk coast offers hope on both fronts.

If as seems likely the wind farm is granted planning permission nationally, then several conditions must be applied:

• Substantial compensation for Happisburgh where cables would come ashore to fund coastal defences there.

• No disruption to the beach at Happisburgh by using long drill technology to bring cables inland.

• No loss of homes and proper compensation for landowners where cable trenches are dug.

• Use of direct current (DC) to avoid the need for a relay station inland from Happisburgh.

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• Minimising disruption to our roads to avoid travel chaos for residents and visitors.

• Investment in our communities as well as jobs for local people delivering the planned work.

• Protection of the marine and rural environments that make North Norfolk so special.

We know that Vattenfall, the Swedish government company behind the proposal, can afford to pay for all these measures.

We also know that Vattenfall has invested substantial sums where they are working elsewhere in the UK. Our councils at every level need to get the best for north Norfolk and help tackle the energy and erosion crises.

Stephen Burke, The Hill, Happisburgh

CPRE Norfolk generally supports offshore wind farms, but urges Vattenfall and Orsted to consider more carefully the potential negatives of the associated onshore works.

In particular, the difference in damage to the countryside and environment between use of the DC or AC option is stark, and we consider it to be unreasonable for both firms to seek permission for their projects without a clear preference for one system over the other.

In terms of environmental loss, the DC option will result in approximately twice as much damage to our Norfolk countryside than AC, due largely to the contrasting widths of the cabling corridors, but also due to the need for cable relay stations under the AC option, but not for DC.

Even though these corridors will be restored in time, the potential for ecological damage is great not least with the removal of topsoil and resulting disruption of ecosystems.

The technology is available and proven for DC, with the supply and expertise for this system likely to improve during the lifespan of these projects.

Surely now is the time for these companies to commit to the system which will cause least overall harm to Norfolk?

Michael Rayner, Planning Campaigns Consultant, CPRE Norfolk

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