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Debate over windfarms threatens to tear a small Norfolk community apart

PUBLISHED: 10:40 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:13 27 February 2018

Protest in Necton. Picture: Jenny Smedley

Protest in Necton. Picture: Jenny Smedley

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An act of vandalism in a small Norfolk village has symbolised the growing community divisions over the construction of windfarm infrastructure.

Graffiti on barn door at Necton Farm. Picture: Colin KingGraffiti on barn door at Necton Farm. Picture: Colin King

An act of vandalism in a small Norfolk village has symbolised the growing community divisions over the construction of windfarm infrastructure.

The once close-knit community in Necton, near Swaffham, has become divided between residents who are for or against substations, which are linked to off-shore windfarms.

The rift began with the construction of a substation linked to an offshore windfarm operated by energy company, Dudgeon, and grew further when Swedish company Vattenfall unveiled plans to build a second, much larger substation nearby.

But these tensions took a sinister turn when threatening graffiti was found scrawled across two locations, which have ties to the windfarms.

The Dudgeon / National Grid substation sign after the graffiti was removed. Picture: Jenny SmedleyThe Dudgeon / National Grid substation sign after the graffiti was removed. Picture: Jenny Smedley

At the Dudgeon substation, obscenities were scrawled across a sign near the A47 with a message that substations are not welcome. Nearby at Necton Farm, similar language was used in a veiled threat to the King family, who own sections of land which have been sold to Dudgeon and could also be sold to Vattenfall for underground cables and their proposed substation.

The graffiti warned, “your days in Necton are over”. Michael King, who operates Necton Farm, said the graffiti on his property made no reference to substations and “this may not be to do with the substations at all”.

But Mr King’s cousin, Colin King, who lives at the neighbouring Ivy Todd Farm and has not been involved in the sale of any land, said the incident left him feeling intimidated.

“This graffiti highlights the divisions that have been created by the latest substation proposal and it is worrying because we don’t know how far people are prepared to go,” he said.

“The wording of it is almost a threat and we don’t know what these people’s intentions are. Do they want to push our whole family out of Necton? Will they do more?”

Norfolk Police said they do not have any CCTV from the graffiti at the substation and no leads, while National Grid, which operates the site, said the graffiti has now been removed. Campaign group, Necton Substations Action Group, which opposes the substations, said it has “disassociated” themselves from any illegal actions.

The group has also written to Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman.

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