Little Dunham villagers turn out in electricity substation protest

Chris HillA campaigning community turned out in force to protest against the huge scale of an electricity substation planned near their homes.The rally was held on the recreation ground in Little Dunham, close to the site where Warwick Energy wants to connect its Dudgeon windfarm, planned off the north Norfolk coast, to the National Grid.Chris Hill

A campaigning community turned out in force to protest against the huge scale of an electricity substation planned near their homes.

The rally was held on the recreation ground in Little Dunham, close to the site where Warwick Energy wants to connect its Dudgeon windfarm, planned off the north Norfolk coast, to the National Grid.

Residents of the tiny village, near Swaffham, are concerned the plan will blight their rural surroundings, as the 42-acre proposed development is only 170m from the nearest houses.

On Saturday, more than 130 people linked arms around the perimeter of a 70m by 25m rectangle, designed to show the footprint of one of the four buildings planned in the scheme.


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The rally's supporters, including local politicians, also watched a 15m banner unfurled to show the height of the proposed structures.

Warwick Energy said the sub-station would be "sensitively design-ed" and screened by landscaping and tree planting.

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But Paul Gardner, a member of the Little Dunham Action Group, formed to oppose the plans, said the screening would not work and more appropriate sites were available away from houses.

"It is going to have an enormous impact on a quiet rural village, and in so many different ways," he said. "It will destroy the landscape and the views we enjoy here. There is also a lot of concern growing over health and noise issues."

The project was due to be decided by Breckland Council's development control committee today but the decision has been deferred to allow more information to be gathered.

Mark Kiddle-Morris, a district and county councillor representing the area, said he would speak on behalf of the villagers when the plan is put to the committee - expected to be on April 19.

"These people are not being nimbyist," he said. "This develop-ment is too big for where it is situated - it is nearly as big as the village itself. But the community spirit in objecting to the plan and raising all this support has been exemplary."

Tory parliamentary candidate for Mid Norfolk, George Freeman, told the rally he was "appalled" by the scale of the project.

"To place it on high ground, 170m from a village, when you've got a huge area to choose from looks like a lazy lowest-cost proposal with little sensitivity to the area or community," he said. "There must be alternative sites with less impact."

Warwick Energy's environmental statement for the project says the Little Dunham site was selected out of 112 potential options because of its suitability and accessibility, with relatively few houses in close proximity.

It says: "It is believed that the detailed and iterative process under-taken has resulted in an onshore electrical connection that has the least impact upon the natural, human and physical environment, and which is deliverable in the necessary timeframes."

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