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Windfarm substation plans will 'no doubt' lead to judicial review, says MP

PUBLISHED: 14:39 23 January 2019

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has met with councillors, campaigners and landowners in the area set to be affected by the plans for the substation. Pictured, the Conservative MP during a visit to the proposed site in Necton. Photo: GEORGE FREEMAN

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has met with councillors, campaigners and landowners in the area set to be affected by the plans for the substation. Pictured, the Conservative MP during a visit to the proposed site in Necton. Photo: GEORGE FREEMAN

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An MP has said he has “no doubt” a successful judicial review will be held over plans to locate a substation connected to one of the world’s largest windfarms in a quiet Norfolk village.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has met with councillors, campaigners and landowners in the area set to be affected by the plans for the substation. Pictured, the Conservative MP during a visit to the proposed site in Necton. Photo: GEORGE FREEMANMid Norfolk MP George Freeman has met with councillors, campaigners and landowners in the area set to be affected by the plans for the substation. Pictured, the Conservative MP during a visit to the proposed site in Necton. Photo: GEORGE FREEMAN

Mid Norfolk MP, George Freeman, criticised the Swedish energy company Vattenfall for its lack of “proper consultation” into the plans to build a substation at Necton to connect an offshore windfarm to the National Grid.

In a letter to the planning inspector, the Conservative MP voiced his “strong opposition” to the Norfolk Vanguard windfarm plans being granted the go-ahead and described the pre-application consultation as “inadequate”.

He told the inspector: “The company have shown a very clear disregard for the views and concerns of local councillors, residents, businesses - in what they seem to have viewed as a simple ‘box-checking’ exercise.”

“The failure to properly engage with the local community has resulted in a completely inappropriate site being chosen.

“I have no doubt that, unless proper consultation takes place, a successful judicial review will follow.”

He also claimed the company has provided no up to date images of what the substation could look like, and said construction at the “incredibly prominent” location would be a “significant visual blight”.

Mr Freeman said: “I am continuing to support the local communities in their opposition to the proposals in their current form, and I intend to secure a debate for MPs in Westminster on the wider policy matter of offshore wind energy in the East.”

It comes after Mr Freeman wrote to the chief executive of Breckland Council last month, to express his concerns about the risk of digging up land that had been contaminated in a 1996 F-16 fighter jet crash.

Ruari Lean, Vanguard development manager, said: “We appreciate the meaningful and robust conversations we’ve had with residents, landowners, businesses and stakeholders in Norfolk in recent years.

“These conversations, addressing real and specific issues, have influenced the proposed design of Norfolk Vanguard and made it a better project capable of generating low cost power, free from fossil fuels.

“And we will continue to talk to local people about Norfolk Vanguard - including in relation to the substation - as we strive to minimise the project’s impact and maximise opportunities for local communities, businesses and workers.”

Vattenfall state on their website they have distributed around 100,000 newsletters; held 31 public events; spoken with approximately 2,500 people; and received more than 1,000 written responses.

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