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‘Ignored and disregarded’ - villagers hit out at plans to build huge substations for offshore wind farms

PUBLISHED: 08:08 15 December 2017 | UPDATED: 08:26 15 December 2017

Vattenfall will need to build two new electrical substations at Necton. This is how a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) substation may look. It is higher than the High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) option. Image: Vattenfall

Vattenfall will need to build two new electrical substations at Necton. This is how a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) substation may look. It is higher than the High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) option. Image: Vattenfall

Vattenfall

Millions of homes will be relying on huge electrical substations at Necton for their energy under plans to connect new offshore wind farms.

The substation at Necton for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm. It will have to treble in size for two new Vattenfall wind farms being built offshore, sparking protests in Necton. Photo: StatoilThe substation at Necton for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm. It will have to treble in size for two new Vattenfall wind farms being built offshore, sparking protests in Necton. Photo: Statoil

Energy firm Vattenfall wants to connect two planned offshore wind farms called Vanguard and Boreas to the National Grid in the Breckland village.

But opposition there is being led by a group called the Necton Substations Action Group. They are horrified that two new substations will be built on farmland on the edge of the village up to 25 metres high, covering around 18 acres each.

The existing substation already near the village for an offshore wind farm will more than treble in size from five acres to 17 acres.

To reach Necton from where the cables make landfall at Happisburgh, Vattenfall will need to dig a trench 60 kilometres long.

Jenny Smedley, from the group, said: “We are not against wind energy, but they are carving halfway across Norfolk just to get to the substations.”

Vattenfall will need to build two new electrical substations at Necton. This is how a High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) substation may look. It is lower than the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) option. Image: Vattenfall Vattenfall will need to build two new electrical substations at Necton. This is how a High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) substation may look. It is lower than the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) option. Image: Vattenfall

She said 66pc of households in Necton had signed a petition against the development.

In the face of that opposition Vattenfall has moved its proposed site for the substations further away from the village.

The group has raised dozens of concerns about the project, including the consultation, potential noise from the substations and soil quality being destroyed by digging the trenches for the cable corridor.

A report written by consultants for Vattenfall about the impact on the landscape of the substations in Necton said: “Their scale and mass would appear at variance with the scale and character of the rural landscape.”

•Read more here from our series on the offshore wind farms

Necton Parish Council, meanwhile, said in its response to Vattenfall’s consultation that people felt “ignored and disregarded”.

“This council has received many complaints from residents specifically about the quality of consultation and their perception is that their contributions have not been considered,” they wrote.

Jenny Smedley stands with fellow Necton residents holding a petition signed by around two-thirds of households in the village in opposition of plans to build a wind farm substations. Photo: ArchantJenny Smedley stands with fellow Necton residents holding a petition signed by around two-thirds of households in the village in opposition of plans to build a wind farm substations. Photo: Archant

But Ruari Lean, Vattenfall project manager, said they chose to connect to the National Grid at Necton because it was the best option for the environment and the cheapest.

Another option was to connect to the National Grid at Walpole near Wisbech but this would mean building a longer offshore cable.

Mr Lean added the firm’s “long term” goal was to improve the local environment.

A spokesman for Vattenfall said: “We worked closely with National Grid to identify a location that will minimise cost to the British consumer and minimise overall impacts.

“More distant connection locations were ruled out at an early stage in the process – these options would involve installing cables over much greater distances, which increases costs and environmental impacts.”

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