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Residents ‘saddened’ by impact of substations on rare wildlife in Necton

PUBLISHED: 17:22 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:19 21 August 2018

Jenny and Tony Smedley near the proposed site for the substations in Necton. Photo: Colin King

Jenny and Tony Smedley near the proposed site for the substations in Necton. Photo: Colin King

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Residents in a Norfolk village that could become home to a new electrical substation have raised concerns about the impact on two rare species of bats.

Tony Smedley (R) presenting MP George Freeman with a petition. Photo: Jenny SmedleyTony Smedley (R) presenting MP George Freeman with a petition. Photo: Jenny Smedley

Swedish energy firm Vattenfall wants to connect two new offshore wind farms at Happisburgh to the National Grid with substations at Necton.

But campaigners from the Necton Substations Action Group (NSAG) say the plans for a 45m wide cable corridor to transport the energy across the county pose a risk to the habitats of the bats, which are protected species.

Jenny Smedley, from NSAG, said: “We have discovered an area in Necton that will have 1km of hedge and mature trees removed for Vattenfall’s development, if permission is granted, has at least two rare species of bats.

“All bats are protected species but it doesn’t seem to make any difference when these projects of national importance come along.

“I’m not an expert on bats but it just saddens me that even a protected species comes lower on the list of priorities.”

Mrs Smedley, 68, added: “Our concern started when we knew about this enormous substation coming here.”

She said she had written to Breckland district council about her concerns and informed the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT).

The two species which could be affected by the development are Barbastelle and Nathusius Pipistrelle bats, both of which are categorised as rare by the BCT.

The findings were made in a bat activity survey, carried out on behalf of Vattenfall by Norfolk Wildlife Services (NWS).

They described the area as a highly suitable habitat for bats.

The survey also found Serotine bats in the area which are categorised as an uncommon species by the BCT.

A spokesperson for the BCT said “Turbines may be an issue for bats not only because of the risk of direct collision, but also because of potential displacement from foraging habitat.”

Ruari Lean, project manager for Norfolk Vanguard said: “Bat activity, foraging and commuting, has been detected within the areas surveyed.

“All bats are European Protected Species and are afforded the highest level of protection, which we take very seriously.

“Through careful design we have sought to minimise potential impacts on bats through avoiding features, such as woodland, that could support bat roosts, so potential impacts are limited to temporary disturbance to foraging habitat, which we have committed to limiting, allowing compensatory growth nearby, subject to landowner permission, and fully reinstating hedgerows that are affected by the cable route following the completion of the works.

“We also commit to mitigation planting to replace and improve ecological connections currently located within the onshore project substation footprint.”

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