Hundreds of miles of pylons will still need to be built across the region's countryside despite work on a huge wind farm off Norfolk's coast being halted, say energy bosses.

But campaigners against National Grid proposals for 112 miles of pylons from Dunston, near Norwich, to Tilbury on the Thames Estuary, said it must cast doubt over whether such high capacity power schemes are necessary.

Swedish company Vattenfall announced on Thursday it was halting work on the Norfolk Boreas wind farm, citing a 40pc rise in costs.

While the company said it remains committed to the East of England and could switch attention to its other Norfolk Vanguard wind farms, it has cast a shadow over the viability of such schemes.

In March, Denmark’s Orsted warned it might pause the Norfolk Hornsea 3 project – expected to be the world’s largest wind farm – unless it gets help with surging costs.

Watton & Swaffham Times: Work on the Norfolk Boreas wind farm has been haltedWork on the Norfolk Boreas wind farm has been halted (Image: Rasmus Kortegaard Photography)



The uncertainty comes as National Grid consults over the hugely controversial Norwich to Tilbury scheme.

Watton & Swaffham Times: The Norwich to Tilbury scheme would see 112 miles of pylonsThe Norwich to Tilbury scheme would see 112 miles of pylons

That line of 50-metre-high pylons would take power from a new substation at Swardeston, connected to wind farm cables, including from Hornsea 3.

While the Vattenfall power would go to Necton, rather than Swardeston, part of the justification for the need for such a scheme has been because the current capacity in East Anglia will be exceeded once more wind farms are built.

READ MORE: What is the building work in fields off the A47 near Norwich?

And that has led to questions over whether, if fewer wind farms take shape, such capacity improvements will be needed.

But a National Grid spokesperson said Vattenfall's announcement has not changed its plans.

A spokesman said: "It does not change the need for this new network reinforcement between Norwich and Tilbury.

"It is still needed to connect other new offshore wind and new generation in the area.

"Projects such as this take many years to develop and there are often changes to the amount of generation needing to connect. 

"Any confirmed changes to connection contracts are factored into our back check and review process at each stage of the project development."

However, campaigners said it fuels their call for an offshore solution, rather than overground pylons.

National Grid has said one of the reasons why it is not proposing underwater cables is because they would not have sufficient capacity for power generated.

Watton & Swaffham Times: Rosie PearsonRosie Pearson (Image: Susan Lang)

Rosie Pearson, from the Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons action group, said the planned Norwich to Tilbury project caters for six gigawatts of electricity capacity.

She said that was already too high for the planned wind farms and the fresh uncertainty following Vattenfall's announcement added more question marks around the scheme.

She said: "We welcome offshore wind, but what Vattenfall have said definitely shows that the Norwich to Tilbury scheme is even more overblown."



And, with Norfolk County Council currently spending £21.4m to build an offshore energy campus in Great Yarmouth to serve the renewable energy sector, Vattenfall's announcement sparked concern at County Hall.

Watton & Swaffham Times: How the offshore energy campus could lookHow the offshore energy campus could look (Image: NCC)

Officers spoke to representatives from Vattenfall about the situation on Thursday.

A council spokesman said: "We are naturally disappointed that the current development of the Norfolk Boreas Wind Farm has been paused.

"But during talks, we were reassured that Vattenfall will continue to develop the rest of the Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone including the imminent work along the western section of the cable corridor, in preparation for buried transmission system and onshore substation installation.

"We remain optimistic for the future of the Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone, and we will await further information from Vattenfall as they evaluate their future position."

Watton & Swaffham Times: Steve MorphewSteve Morphew (Image: Archant)

But Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: "How we have managed to become so dependent on investment over which we have no control is for the government to explain urgently.

"Our contribution to tackling the climate crisis, independence of power and the economic success of Norfolk are all at stake."