Norfolk substation fight gets under way
Dominic ChessumHomeowners in mid-Norfolk are gearing up to fight plans by a green energy company to build a huge electricity substation on the edge of their village.Residents in Little Dunham, near Swaffham, agreed to form an action group to create detailed objections to a proposal by Warwick Energy to build a sub-station on 42 acres of land little more than 100m from homes.Dominic Chessum
Homeowners in mid-Norfolk are gearing up to fight plans by a green energy company to build a huge electricity substation on the edge of their village.
Residents in Little Dunham, near Swaffham, agreed to form an action group to create detailed objections to a proposal by Warwick Energy to build a sub-station on 42 acres of land little more than 100m from homes.
Locals say the acreage is almost equivalent to the centre of the village itself and they fear the structure will spoil the countryside and lead to thousands of lorry movements in the narrow country roads while it is built.
The sub-station would take electricity from the proposed Dudgeon offshore wind farm, which will lie 32km to the north of Cromer, and feed it into the National Grid. It will sit at the end of a 45km underground cable which will run from Weybourne, where it comes ashore, to Little Dunham.
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Earlier plans to site the substation near Barford and Wramplingham in south Norfolk also caused outrage from residents there, but were dropped because of technical difficulties.
Warwick Energy has said the substation will only take up 22 acres of the 42 acre site and it will be 'sensitively designed and sensitively screened' but many villagers were angry the infrastructure was being proposed so close to their homes when so much rural land was available.
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Nearly 60 villagers packed into Little Dunham's small village hall for the meeting on Monday night. Local resident John Crawley received a round of applause when he said: 'This is an insult and they are railroading this through for their own gain. We want to be furious not passive.'
Mr Crawley said he had a clear message for Warwick Energy: 'Push off and do it somewhere else.'
Stephen Wright said the question that needed to be asked was why the sub-station had to be in Little Dunham's back yard.
Many agreed with local landowner Henry Kilvert, who told the meeting that he did not want to see the scheme happen but that any objection needed to be based on fact. At the end of the meeting almost all present voted to oppose the sub-station plan and nobody voted in its favour. It was agreed to set up an action group to fight the scheme.
Warwick Energy has said it hopes to submit an outline planning application before Christmas.
Yesterday project director Mark Petterson said: 'We cannot build the substation without some disruption but we will work with everyone in the vicinity to try and minimise that.
'We have looked at every single pylon over a long stretch. Little Dunham was the chosen site. It is not ideal but it is the least worst location.'
Mr Petterson said that when screened the site would not be visible and that there would be no noise from it.