Offshore Wind Power WITHOUT Destroying the Norfolk Countryside

by Ray Pearce

Offshore Wind Power WITHOUT Destroying the Norfolk Countryside

by Ray Pearce
Ray Pearce
Case Owner
I am a retired RAF and professional pilot and have lived peacefully in Norfolk for over 30 yrs. I feel a public responsibility to try and save Norfolk's countryside from irrecoverable damage.
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I am a retired RAF and professional pilot and have lived peacefully in Norfolk for over 30 yrs. I feel a public responsibility to try and save Norfolk's countryside from irrecoverable damage.
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Latest: Nov. 24, 2020

Suffolk Enters the Fray

The National Infrastructure consultations for the next set of windfarm developments to impact East Anglia commenced in Suffolk on 6th October.   The National Infrastructure Planning Examinations…

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I strongly support the use of renewable wind power electricity which is a wonderful progression for the people of the UK.  BUT, the transmission systems, built for the profit of private companies who are exploiting this valuable resource, will severely damage the environment they were supposed to save.

On 1st July 2020, the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) approved the Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm - the of first of many offshore wind farms that will connect to the electricity grid by digging long cable trenches onshore, and, building huge industrial substations throughout rural Norfolk.  

I am challenging the Secretary of State's decision, by means of a Judicial Review, on a point of law.  

Significantly, on 2nd October I received an Order from the High Court Judge.
I HAVE BEEN GRANTED PERMISSION TO HAVE A FULL, SUBSTANTIVE HEARING IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE. 

This is a very important stage to have reached. The Judge has read the outline of my barristers’ case and has decided that, as the Claimant, my grounds are 'arguable'  in Court at a Judicial Review.

It now remains for me to complete my representation on behalf of the Norfolk people, and, the environment impacted by this decision; we have our day in Court.

PLEASE CAN YOU HELP ME TO PROCEED TO THIS SUBSTANTIVE HEARING BY HELPING TO FUND THE EXPERT LEGAL REPRESENTATION THAT I NEED?

The for profit company Vattenfall, which is wholly owned by the Swedish Government has been given approval to build an offshore wind farm, Norfolk Vanguard and connect it to the UK's electricity grid at a substation some 56km inland.  Norfolk Vanguard and it's sister project Norfolk Boreas, plan to build two substation extensions immediately adjacent to the quiet village of Necton, constructing 4 huge buildings; each building is 19 metres high, 110 metres long and 40 meters deep!  The project is a profitable venture for both Vattenfall and the Electricity Grid Supply Operator (EGSO), National Grid plc.

Norfolk Vanguard is only the first of many offshore wind farms proposed by private developers in the southern North Sea – many of them wishing to come ashore in Norfolk and dig their way across the county to an inland grid connection point.

There is a better way!  All of the wind farms's transmission systems can be integrated into an offshore network, connected to coastal substations, with no requirement to industrialise rural Norfolk at all.

THE THREAT

Rural Norfolk is under threat from plans to impose lasting environmental damage through the construction of massive inland substations with hundreds of kilometres of cable trenching, taking many years to install. The national infrastructure plans are to bring renewable energy from offshore wind farms ashore, and to build huge industrial electricity substations to connect the imported electricity into the electricity grid. There has been no strategic coordination of these plans, with substation connection points being allocated to developers on a ‘first come, first served’ basis by National Grid plc.

Vattenfall has made use of permissive Government legislation by making two separate planning applications, for one windfarm area, in three conjoined blocks, and, despite both Norfolk Vanguard & Norfolk Boreas ‘projects’ using the same cable trench, and connecting to the same substation location at Necton. The separate applications mask the huge cumulative impacts on the landscape and rural vista from the building of two substation extensions at Necton, but the Government's decisions on each application are being made in isolation.

In response to the ensuing chaos, on 15th July 2020, the Government set up an 'urgent' Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR). However, despite the certain knowledge of the impending review announcement, the Secretary of State for BEIS still made the decision to approve the Norfolk Vanguard Wind Farm project, but importantly, contrary to the advice from the Planning Inspectorate. This is the first of many offshore wind farms to be approved with 4 more either in planning or awaiting approval.

Judging from the Terms of Reference of the OTNR, it appears likely that the Norfolk Vanguard project, the sister project Norfolk Boreas, and the Hornsea Three project  will be excluded from consideration and allowed to push ahead with their current onshore proposals. This is in spite of the imminent and likely conclusion of the OTNR in favour of an integrated offshore grid connections for all future wind farms. This is a destructive and unnecessary situation.

THE CHALLENGE

I have mounted a challenge to this threat, but I need your help by way of any amount of donation towards the £16,000  required to support my legal representation at a Judicial Review, in an attempt to save the onshore environment of Norfolk from irrecoverable damage.   I have the support of the  Necton Substation Action Group (NSAG) and have been endorsed and supported by lead members of the Norfolk parish movement for an Offshore Ring Main (ORM).  

I am the Claimant with permission from the High Court to proceed to a Judicial Review of the Norfolk Vanguard Development Consent Order (DCO) decision, which was made by the Secretary of State BEIS on 1st July 2020. 

On 12th August I applied to the Court of Administration and Planning for a Judicial Review to challenge the legality of  the Secretary of State for BEIS’s decision to approve the Norfolk Vanguard Wind Farm project.  An Order giving permission to proceed to a Judicial Review, to be heard in the High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division Planning Court, was made by the Honourable Mrs Beverley Justice Lang DBE on 1st October.  The date for the hearing will be later this year.

THE EFFECT

If the Judicial Review is successful, then the Secretary of State’s decision to approve Norfolk Vanguard will be quashed and the Secretary of State will have to re-consider his decision.

It is hoped that such a  judgement would create a precedent, which would make it more difficult for the Secretary of State’s ability to approve the Hornsea Three project in December 2020, in its present onshore configuration.

PLEASE DONATE AND HELP ME IN THE CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE NORFOLK COUNTRYSIDE FROM AN IMPENDING DISASTER.

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BACKGROUND

I am an ordinary member of the public. I retired as a commercial pilot in 2015, and was formerly a Royal Air Force pilot with 22 years of service to my country. I intended to live peacefully with my family in beautiful rural Norfolk. However, since early in 2017, my family life has been adversely affected by the proposed and successive plans from multiple wind farm developers planning to dig long cable trenches across the county, and build massive industrial buildings in the countryside. The largest two of the cable trenches are planned to cross just 80 metres from my home but without any rationality between the different developers’ plans.

NSAG, mentioned above, is an unincorporated association that was established in order to scrutinise the grid connection plans made by the developer Vattenfall, with particular interest in the choice of grid connection location at Necton Substation. The Norfolk parish movement for an ORM, also mentioned above, is a group of almost 30 parish councils, representing communities that will be impacted by the substations, landfalls and cable routes for all the offshore wind farm proposals currently in or approaching the NSIP planning process. The movement has been actively calling on government to engage urgently in strategic planning of the massive expansion of offshore wind, and has been promoting the design alternative of an ORM within the NSIP process. Both NSAG and the Parish Councils participated in the consultations with Vattenfall and in the Vanguard planning examination. Several Parish Councils have also participated actively in the Hornsea Project Three and Norfolk Boreas public examinations.

To date, there are five such developments in various stages of consent or planning: Norfolk Vanguard (development consented), Hornsea 3 (awaiting consent), Norfolk Boreas (under examination), Dudgeon Extension (scoping report issued) and Sheringham Shoal Extension (scoping report issued). There are many more individual wind farms to follow.

The recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate after its examination of the application for Norfolk Vanguard was that the Secretary of State should not grant development consent to Vattenfall. The rational decision would have been to grant permission to build the Norfolk Vanguard wind farm and turbines offshore, whilst the OTN Review takes place (due to be reported by National Grid plc. in November 2020), and grant permission later for a connection to an integrated offshore transmission system, post the OTNR.

Norfolk Vanguard plans to dig a 56km cable trench across rural Norfolk and build two huge substation extensions, with four massive buildings on a hill dominating the landscape, adjacent to the rural village of Necton. Why when there is a better alternative!?

All of the offshore wind farms could connect to the electricity grid by way of an integrated offshore cable network known as the Offshore Ring Main (ORM). By way of a ‘reasonable alternative’, the ORM was introduced to the planning examination but it was disregarded as being irrelevant; this despite a similar integrated offshore network having been identified as having the potential to save £billions for the consumer during an industry study into offshore wind networks carried out by a National Grid consortium during 2015 (The Integrated Offshore Transmission Project (East) Report 2015).

The impact on the environment has not been considered holistically by either the Planning Inspectorate or the Government, with only the benefit to the Government’s net zero target having been given any due importance. Both Vattenfall and the Electricity System Operator (ESO) National Grid plc. have the potential to make £millions profits from the East Anglian windfarm projects with the Norfolk Boreas project planned to be built just one year after Norfolk Vanguard.

Vattenfall erroneously excluded several issues pertinent to both Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas projects from Vanguard’s cumulative impacts assessment, deferring them to the Boreas examination, whilst claiming that the details available for Boreas were limited. However, during the ongoing Boreas examination, pressure has since been applied to the Planning Inspector by the developer, who now expects a positive outcome for Boreas due to the precedent set by the positive Vanguard decision. The two projects are inexorably linked and the cumulative impacts on the countryside, as a whole, have yet to be correctly and extensively examined.

There are other projects which will cause continued damage in Norfolk
– Ørsted's Hornsea 3 cables routeing from Weybourne to Swardeston (Norwich Main substation)
- Equinor's Dudgeon and Sheringham Shoal windfarm extensions from Weybourne (again) to Swardeston (again) despite these two windfarms being already connected to the grid at two completely different substations.

The further cumulative damage from Dudgeon and Sheringham Shoal have not been considered either. However, quashing the decision to complete the Norfolk Vanguard onshore transmission system will give the impetus for an integrated offshore design to be brought forward and save the onshore environment from the damage that all of these projects will cause.

The cumulative effects to the heritage and archaeology of rural Norfolk from both the Vanguard and Boreas projects (and Hornsea 3 if approved in December 2020) have not been taken into due account. For example: there is identifiable harm to the setting of a Grade I-listed Parish Church at Bradenham which was not given sufficient consideration or weighting by the Planning Inspector or the Secretary of State BEIS. Also, the Conservation Area surrounding the village of Cawston and its High Street will be severely impacted, not only by construction traffic from the Vanguard & Boreas development but also from the Hornsea 3 development, which is planned to be constructed at the same time. The additional traffic burden through this protected village is in the order of 222 HGV vehicles per day, for a prolonged 22-week construction phase. This is not acceptable!

We all have concerns for the global environment but there is a better, ‘greener’ option which has not been given sufficient emphasis and consideration by way of an integrated offshore transmission system or ORM.

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Update 5

Ray Pearce

Nov. 24, 2020

Suffolk Enters the Fray

The National Infrastructure consultations for the next set of windfarm developments to impact East Anglia commenced in Suffolk on 6th October.   The National Infrastructure Planning Examinations for the East Anglia One North & East Anglia Two Windfarm Projects will run consecutively.  

You can view the relevant consultations here:

https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/east-anglia-one-north-offshore-windfarm/?ipcsection=exam

https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/east-anglia-two-offshore-windfarm/?ipcsection=exam

The issues are the same as we experienced in Norfolk for the Norfolk Vanguard, Norfolk Boreas and Hornsea Project 3 consultations.  That is, amongst the many issues: loss of habitat, damage to the environment, impacts on wildlife, adverse impacts on local people and businesses, impact on heritage, loss of archeology, impact on tourism, on and on ... !  Of note, National Grid plc.are still absent from the proceedings for the National Infrastructure developments which are responsible for and have brought about.

However, I recommend to anybody wondering about how all these issues will impact people's lives, to watch the video that the Suffolk Energy Action Solutions - SEAS - group have made.  These are real people dealing with the real world issues that offshore wind development is presenting them with.  The video is here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-7vyTCMS6E&list=PLagRGyl0Btx2kUTV0lD7aSJkwfyk9Hdt_&index=1

Whilst I am the Claimant for the Judicial Review (JR) of the Norfolk Vanguard Windfarm consent, it is heartening to know that I am not a lone voice against the severe impact offshore wind farms will have on the onshore environment where we all live.

There are many challenges ahead, not in the least combatting the recent 'Detailed Grounds for the Defence and Resistance' served by the Defendant (SofS BEIS) and Interested Party (Norfolk Vanguard Ltd.) which has taken me weeks with my lawyers to review, but, with your continued support, I remain undaunted.

Please share the link by email and on social media (FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram etc.), including the updates,  so that the message is distributed far and wide throughout the UK.  The message is not only mine but that of many people from Norfolk and Suffolk, indeed throughout East Anglia, with the same or similar concerns in order to promote a holistic review of offshore wind power electricity generation for the benefit of people and the environment.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/offshore-wind-power-without-de/

Update 4

Ray Pearce

Nov. 1, 2020

Sunday Telegraph Business Article - 1st November 2020

Today, Sunday 1st November 2020, there is an article in the Sunday Telegraph Business news section titled:

The Power Cable Row that Lies Beneath a Shift to Offshore Wind ...

You can read the article here:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/10/31/power-cable-row-lies-beneath-shift-offshore-wind/

"Residents in Norfolk claim their way of life is under threat in the name of clean energy ..."

This is a break through in the effort to spread the word and bring the issue from so called "green' developments, that in reality cause damage to the environment, to the nation's attention.

It is not just rural Norfolk that is under threat, similar developments off the Suffolk coast, also with radial transmission systems being developed by Scottish Power, will have equally damaging consequences for the environment.  I fully support the people of Suffolk in the own campaign to stop this folly and wish them the very best with their submissions to the planning examination for East Anglia One North.

You can read about the East Anglia One North Infrastructure Planning Examination here:
https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/east-anglia-one-north-offshore-windfarm/

The main point is that the whole of East Anglia will be criss crossed by successive trenches and power cables.  There is a solution - the integrated 'Offshore Transmission Network'.  

https://www.nationalgrideso.com/news/latest-report-and-consultation-offshore-coordination-project-released

Please lobby your MPs to contribute to the debate in order that there is a holistic review of Offshore Wind before it is too late.

Please share my campaign to bring the Judicial Review of the first of the East Anglian Wind Farms - Norfolk Vanguard - to a substantive hearing in the High Court.

Thank you for your support.


Update 3

Ray Pearce

Oct. 12, 2020

Damaging the Environment from Happisburgh to Necton

Norfolk is rich in archeology and ancient history.  

Archaeological excavations on Happisburgh Beach have revealed that ancient humans lived in Britain more than 800,000 years ago, making them the earliest northern Europeans.

The landfall site for the Norfolk Vanguard cable route is Happisburgh on the North East Coast of Norfolk. You can read about this community here:
http://happisburgh.org.uk

Some of the earliest recordings of Necton are mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.  Here, it is recorded as “Nechetuna” in the Hundred of South Greenhoe, and was under the control of Ralf of Tosny, otherwise known as Raoul De Toeny.

The site for the huge substation for Norfolk Vanguard and its sister project Norfolk Boreas is adjacent to the village of Necton. You can read about this community here:
https://nectonparishcouncil.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/village-history/

Norfolk's archeology is under threat from multiple cable trenches planned to be dug across the County.

In between these two Norfolk communities will be a cable trench 60km long, 45m wide and around 2m deep similar to the above photograph but much wider.  Farmers will suffer similar damage from Happisburgh to Necton 60km away.

After the cables have been buried the developers claim the land will be re-established.  The following photographs are of a cable trenche that has been "re-established"!!

The claim that the environment is not damaged by cable trenching is just not true!

Help me to bring about a change and STOP THE DAMAGE FROM CABLE TENCHES.

If you know a Norfolk farmer share these pictures with them and ask them to PLEDGE TO SAVE THE NORFOLK COUNTRYSIDE

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/offshore-wind-power-without-de/

Update 2

Ray Pearce

Oct. 12, 2020

The Damage from Cable Trenches

Windfarm Developers claim that the impact from the proposed cable trenches is low. and that they can mitigate any damage.  Meanwhile, farmers have made clear that there will be lasting cumulative impacts from disturbing millions of tonnes of fertile earth, making it unusable for decades as arable land due to the destruction of microbiology and soil structures that have taken centuries to establish.  The loss of ancient hedgerows and archeology will also be an impact.  As will the unquantified heating and magnetic field effects from the huge capacity cables.

There will be a loss of carbon absorption from the plant life removed by the trenching whilst tonnes of Carbon Dioxide will be released into the atmosphere from the smelting of copper for the cables, aluminium for the cable screening, plastics for the cable insulation, never mind the fossil fuel consumed by huge trenching machinery.  The substation buildings, each the size of the pitch at Wembley Stadium, will be made of reinforced concrete creating more atmospheric pollution further contributing to Climate Change and well before the turbines start producing renewable energy.

The cables will be pulled through industrial plastic cable ducts which will be left in the ground after the life of the windfarm they serve has expired (25 years); this pollution of the Norfolk countryside will remain for centuries to come. Meanwhile, you and I are squashing plastic bottles and making sure we recycle as much plastic as possible to avoid plastics going to landfill.

There is a better way by integrating the renewable energy wind farms together, offshore, whilst leaving the beautiful Norfolk countryside be.

Please Pledge and Share to help me at least challenge the cumulative impacts of the Norfolk Vanguard Wind Farm at a Judicial Review.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/offshore-wind-power-without-de/

Update 1

Ray Pearce

Oct. 8, 2020

Permission Granted for Challenge to Norfolk Vanguard Windfarm

Hello and welcome to the campaign for justice to help save the Norfolk Countryside from unnecessary damage.  If you haven't done so yet, please read the details on the main campaign page, then 'Pledge & Share'  if you would like to help fund the Judicial Review.

If you have pledged to the fund, thank you for your support, I am grateful for each and every pledge. Also, please continue to 'Share' the link via social media:
https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/offshore-wind-power-without-de/

As you know, I am raising funds to support the very best Legal Representation I can in order to have a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy's (BEIS's) decision to approve the Norfolk Vanguard Windfarm.

I have been asked about the Legal Representation your pledges will support. Please see the link below for the' Press Release' from my representatives at Francis Taylor Building Chambers who will argue the case in the High Court.
https://www.ftbchambers.co.uk/news/permission-granted-challenge-norfolk-vanguard-windfarm

I hope you can help me raise the funds to see the Judicial Review through.

Thank you for reading and for any further support you can give.

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