Published: Thursday, 17th September 2015
The project to reduce the visual impact of power line infrastructure in nationally protected landscapes across England and Wales has reached a key milestone.
This follows a decision to prioritise four projects.
The four projects involve National Grid transmission schemes in:
- The Dorset area of outstanding natural beauty near Winterbourne Abbas
- The New Forest National Park near Hale
- The Peak District National Park near Dunford Bridge
- The Snowdonia National Park near Porthmadog.
The decision was announced by the initiative’s Stakeholder Advisory Group chaired by environmentalist Chris Baines. The group includes senior representatives from organisations including the Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, Historic England, Cadw, Natural England and the National Trust.
The aim of the scheme is to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s existing infrastructure in AONBs and National Parks and improve the related visual quality of the landscape. Energy regulator Ofgem has said the company can spend £500m on this exercise up to 2021.
Originally 12 sections of high voltage lines in eight AONBs and National Parks were shortlisted.
Given the sensitive nature of these protected areas, replacing existing overhead lines with underground cables has generally proved to be the preferred option both technically and in discussion with local stakeholders.
Chris Baines, chair of the advisory group, said: “Reducing the visual impact of pylons and power lines in our most precious landscapes is highly desirable, but it is also very expensive and technically complex so we have had to make some difficult decisions
“Although four schemes have been prioritised, none of the locations on our original shortlist have been dropped and they will remain under consideration for future work to reduce the impact of National Grid’s transmission lines under this visual impact provision project.”