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MP cancels parliamentary debate on Norfolk wind farms, so he can speak at Norwich hearing into issue

PUBLISHED: 12:22 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:32 06 February 2019

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has secured a debate on wind farms. Picture: Ian Burt

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has secured a debate on wind farms. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A parliamentary debate over where substations are built to serve new offshore wind farms in Norfolk has been cancelled - so the MP who had raised it can add his voice at a Norwich meeting about the issue.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman had secured an end of day adjournment debate on the matter, amid two major wind farm schemes off the county’s coast.

Three of the biggest wind farms in the world are planned off the Norfolk coast.

The companies behind them say they will provide enough energy to power more than four million homes – the equivalent of five Sizewell nuclear power stations.

But the work to put in cables and substations will affect more than 200 landowners - and Conservative Mr Freeman has criticised the public engagement.

Vattenfall wants to build two wind farms, Vanguard and Boreas, 50km east of the coast at Happisburgh, while the wind farm, Hornsea Three, will be built 120km north of the Norfolk coast by Danish energy firm Orsted.

Cables from Hornsea Three would come ashore at Weybourne, while cables from Vattenfall’s two wind farms would reach Norfolk at Happisburgh.

Both would then need trenches up to 60 kilometres long to be dug across the Norfolk countryside to connect them to the National Grid.

The Vattenfall development would see a substation at Nection, while Orsted’s scheme would require one at Swardeston.

Mr Freeman said he was not against the principle of wind farms and was in favour of offshore renewable energy.

But he said he felt local communities had not been properly engaged with and the siting of a substation the size of Wembley Stadium at Necton was inappropriate.

He said: “Instead of a proper strategic connection plan, we’ve got a chaotic free for all of major cables and substations coming, with major environmental impact.”
He said National Grid and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy needed to come up with a proper plan for connection.

The Speaker’s Office at the House of Commons had confirmed that Mr Freeman’s debate on the location of National Grid substations for offshore wind energy in the East of England was due to be heard in Parliament today.

But Mr Freeman has cancelled that debate, so he can be in Norwich for a key hearing on proposals for one of the windfarms.

The Planning Inspectorate is holding an open floor hearing at Blackfriars Hall in Norwich at 6.30pm tonight over the application by Vattenfall for its Norfolk Vanguard wind farm project.

And, because Mr Freeman wants to speak at that meeting, he decided he had to call off the parliamentary debate to ensure he would be back in Norfolk in time for it.

He is now working to try and secure a new date for the debate in Westminster.

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