Second inquiry into substation bid ends

A four-day public inquiry into a proposed mid-Norfolk substation for a giant offshore wind farm came to an end yesterday.

But it is currently unclear when residents will find out the result of the hearing into the planned development at Little Dunham, near Dereham.

It was the second public inquiry into the application originally rejected by Breckland Council in October 2009.

The hearing into the plans, submitted to Breckland by green energy company Warwick Energy, finished at the EcoTech Centre in Swaffham.

Plans for the substation – to link the approved 560MW Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm off Cromer to the national grid – attracted 'vigorous' opposition.

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Following the council's refusal, a two-day public inquiry was held in June last year and Breckland's decision was upheld by the planning inspector and the secretaries of state for energy and communities in September.

However, the High Court ordered the ministers to reconsider their decision in April this year after ruling that the planning inspector had considered the issue of alternative sites without allowing Dudgeon to make representations.

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Simon Fowler, Little Dunham Parish Council chairman, said after the inquiry had finished: 'You can see the depth of feeling of the villagers, who are adamant that this is the wrong place for this development.'

One of the main concerns raised was the substation's visual impact on the character of the rural community.

Richard Kimblin, for Dudgeon, said that the original plans had been refined to make the development 'substantially smaller' because it would use an alternate power supply to connect the national grid.

He said that Warwick was 'driven' to put forward a similar proposal for a substation at Necton, approved by Breckland last month, but Little Dunham has always been the preferred choice.

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