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Tue August 04 2020

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National Grid plans £500m cabling drive to remove blots on landscape

11 Nov 14 National Grid is planning a £500m programme of works to bury cables and reduce the visual impact of overhead lines across eight National Parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Putting these pylons through Snowdonia must have seemed like progress at the time
Putting these pylons through Snowdonia must have seemed like progress at the time

An independent study overseen by landscape specialist Professor Carys Swanwick identified 12 sections of high voltage lines with the most prominent visual impact.

National Grid has said that it will now put some of these underground and re-route or screen others to reduce impact.

The project will use a £500m allowance made available by the regulator Ofgem until 2021.

National Grid is also set to use part of the £500m allocation for smaller localised visual improvement projects which can be accessed by all areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and National Parks with existing National Grid electricity infrastructure. To be launched next year, this landscape enhancement initiative has an ambition to provide up to £24m over six years. The aim is to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s existing infrastructure and improve the related visual quality of the landscape. 

The areas to be worked in are:

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  • Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Dorset AONB
  • High Weald AONB
  • New Forest National Park
  • North Wessex Downs AONB
  • Peak District National Park
  • Snowdonia National Park
  • Tamar Valley AONB.

A stakeholder advisory group comprising organisations including the Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign to Protect Rural Wales, English Heritage, Cadw, Natural England and the National Trust is helping National Grid to identify which transmission lines should be prioritised. 

Members of the group have recommended that a study on a section of overhead line which crosses the River Tamar in the Tamar Valley AONB (pictured below) should now be progressed to assess the feasibility of engineering work to reduce its visual impact.    

Decisions about other shortlisted sites will be made in spring 2015 following further consultation and studies.

George Mayhew, National Grid representative on the project stakeholder advisory group, said: “National Grid’s electricity network is vital to our way of life, but this project will help reduce its impact on some of our most treasured landscapes. At the heart of the project is collaboration between National Grid, those organisations tasked with protecting Britain’s treasured areas and the people who live in and visit these landscapes.”

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