National Grid announce pylon route near Clevedon UPDATED

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By Carol_Deacon | Tuesday, November 06, 2012, 10:39

National Grid has announced the draft route for the new 400,000 volt power connection between Bridgwater and Seabank near Avonmouth.  

And at first glance it looks as if the power giant has listened to protesters although the devil will be in the detail.

The proposals included:

  • Removal of existing power line would mean around 95 fewer pylons in the area overall;
  • Connection to go underground through the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and
  • Views of local people helped shape many of the details of the proposals.
This has followed nearly three years of planning and listening to the views of local people and experts.  

It puts a line on the map for the connection needed for the new Hinkley Point C power station and other low carbon electricity generation planned for the South West.

The new connection will mean that an existing 132,000 volt line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth can be taken down.  

In addition a number of other shorter sections of 132,000 volt line will be removed to enable construction of the new line.  

In total National Grid expects there to be a reduction in the number of pylons between Bridgwater and Avonmouth from 240 to 145.    

A NG spokesman said: "We will consult on our detailed proposals in 2013, and anticipate that we will be able to include the T-Pylon in this consultation."

The special importance of the landscape in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was strongly backed by local views during the consultation.  

Here, the connection will go underground for more than eight kilometres - nearly five miles.   

Once the existing 132,000 volt line has been removed, a new substation will be needed in the Sandford area to make sure Weston-super-Mare and Churchill continue to receive a safe and reliable electricity supply.

A NG spokesman said: "During the next decade, the country must make the major investment needed to deliver energy security.  

"This project is just one step towards meeting National Grid's challenge to modernise and extend the country's existing energy infrastructure to ensure reliable power supplies for the future and help meet the UK's carbon reduction targets." 

National Grid senior project manager Peter Bryant said: "We've been very keen to listen to the views of local people, for example on the importance of the Mendip Hills where we now plan to use underground cables.  

"We're very pleased that the new connection will take up to 95 pylons out of the landscape. 

"We understand people have concerns about overhead lines, but where they are used, we will work hard to reduce any visual effects by routeing the line carefully and using appropriate pylon designs, which could include the new T-Pylon." 

Among other examples of how local views have helped to shape National Grid's proposals:

The route through Mark will use a gap that is further away from properties and Mark Church of England VC First School than the existing overhead line.

In addition, the existing overhead line above Avonmouth Church of England Primary School will be removed.

Residents of Nailsea raised concerns about the two existing power lines near their homes.

In response, both lines will be dismantled and the new line will be further away from the houses. 

The second existing 132,000 volt overhead line will be placed underground. This will remove existing power lines that currently cross people's gardens in Nailsea.

Feedback from local communities has directly affected consideration of National Grid's proposals which represent a balance between the cost of the connection, which passes through to all consumers in their bills, and minimising the impact on the local environment.

More information about the draft route can be found on the project website at: www.hinkleyconnection.co.uk.  

Residents can also visit National Grid's community information hubs in Bridgwater, Congresbury, Nailsea and Avonmouth during November and December to find out more about the project. 

Later next year, after careful consideration of feedback on the draft route, National Grid will consult on more detailed proposals before making a formal application for consent to construct the connection.  

Ultimately, Government will make a decision based on a recommendation made by the Planning Inspectorate. 

North Somerset Council deputy leader and lead member for strategic planning Elfan Ap Rees was among the first to comment.

The Weston councillor said: "Naturally we are pleased to see that National Grid has listened, in part, to the objections raised by the district and parish councils and North Somerset residents and that the new line through the AONB will now be buried and the existing line removed. 

"However I am disappointed that to date, they are only proposing to bury one of the existing 132,000 volt lines on the Nailsea-Portishead sector while replacing the other with the new line overground. 

"This is not what residents want to hear and we will continue to argue for the whole overhead line to be underground to improve the appearance of our countryside."

And North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox isn't satisfied with the concessions made by National Grid.

He has vowed to fight on over National Grid plans to run pylon lines through the middle of his North Somerset constituency.

Dr Fox said: "Generally, these plans are very disappointing and will reinforce the impression that the whole consultation was largely a waste of time.  

"There are some minor improvements with fewer lines across Nailsea and the main pylon line being moved away from housing.  

"The undergrounding of lines across the Mendips is welcome, but nothing is being done to reduce the environmental impact of potentially higher pylons across Tickenham Ridge.

"We will continue to fight for the use of new technology as the cost must be measured in more than just money.  

"This may be the end of the 'War of the Mendips' but it is just the beginning of the 'Battle of Tickenham Ridge'.

"I will be talking further to National Grid; we will be having a public meeting in Nailsea; and I will be seeing the Secretary of State to see whether changes in legislation can be used to change these plans.

"The fight goes on."

      

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