Windfarm backers claim wide support

Backers of a planned big new windfarm off the north Norfolk coast say local people are backing the venture by a ratio of 15 to one.About 300 people visited a roadshow highlighting the plans and explaining the Dudgeon project - which would be is 20 miles off Cromer - over the past two days.

the firm planning a big new wind farm off the north Norfolk coast says local people are behind the venture by a ratio of 15 to one.

About 300 people visited a roadshow highlighting the plans and explaining the Dudgeon project, 20 miles off Cromer, over two days. The response was overwhelmingly in favour, said Mark Petterson, executive director of Warwick Energy, the company behind the scheme. It was stronger support than the 10:1 seen on its previous schemes elsewhere in the country, he said.

Most people backed the green power ambitions of the wind energy plan, which would start pumping out enough power for 400,000 homes in 2013 if all the consents and consultations go smoothly.

Mr Petterson said concerns were raised about the potential impact on shipping lanes, fishing grounds, birdlife and the view from the shore. But surveys and talks so far had revealed that:

Shipping organisations and coastguards were happy with the navigation issue.

Only a handful of crab fishermen used the area and would be offered disruption payments during construction.

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There was little bird activity, as it was based in deep water rather than on sandbanks.

The 200m-tall turbines would just be seen on the horizon on a clear day,

The proposed number of turbines had been increased from 60-100 to 168 to make more use of the 35sq km site, and they were about �km apart, he added. While half the �1.5bn of economic benefits would go abroad to turbine makers, there would be a local spinoff for hotels and other services during the 18-month construction and a longer-term benefit through a locally-based maintenance team.

Warwick Energy was seeking public feedback at sessions in Cromer and Sheringham ahead of lodging an application for consent later this year. It is hoped to secure permission in April 2010 and to start building in 2012.