National Grid study launched major initiative to reduce the visual impact of electricity infrastructure in nationally protected landscapes across England and Wales

  • Part of a £500 million project to reduce visual impact of electricity infrastructure in protected landscapes
  • Launch of £24 million initiative for smaller landscape enhancement projects
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group commissions feasibility study in the Tamar Valley AONB

LONDON, 11-11-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — Plans to reduce the visual impact of electricity infrastructure in nationally protected landscapes across England and Wales are gathering momentum, following a new study by National Grid.

Twelve sections of high voltage lines in eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks have been shortlisted as having the most significant landscape and visual impact, following an independent study overseen by leading landscape expert Professor Carys Swanwick.

The study assessed 571 km of National Grid’s electricity transmission lines in England and Wales’s most treasured landscapes. It forms part of the Visual Impact Provision project, a major initiative to reduce the visual impact of existing transmission lines in protected areas.

The project will make use of a £500 million allowance made available by Ofgem* until 2021.

The protected landscapes which have been singled out as having existing power lines with the most significant visual impact are:

  • 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

Part of the £500 million allowance will be used by National Grid to mitigate the visual impact of sections of high voltage overhead lines in some of these locations.  A range of engineering measures could be implemented including the replacement of existing overhead lines with underground cables, the re-routing and screening from key public viewpoints of the lines.

George Mayhew, National Grid representative on the project Stakeholder Advisory Group, comments: “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.”

National Grid is also set to use part of the £500 million allocation for smaller localised visual improvement projects which can be accessed by all AONBs and National Parks with existing National Grid electricity infrastructure.

Set to be launched in 2015, this landscape enhancement initiative has an ambition to provide up to £24 million over six years. The aim will be to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s existing infrastructure and improve the related visual quality of the landscape.

Chris Baines, Chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, said: “By working with a range of stakeholders at a national level, we have a major opportunity to preserve and enhance beautiful landscapes throughout England and Wales. While a number of projects will involve removing existing pylons and replacing them underground, there is also an opportunity to undertake local landscape enhancement initiatives that will help AONBs and National Parks with National Grid’s power lines benefit from this important project.”

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 and how the fund should be allocated.

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 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 engagement with local stakeholders and further investigation of technical feasibility, economic, social, archaeological, environmental and heritage issues.

Contact for media information only:

National Grid:
Stephanie van Rosse – 07767 337343
Camargue:
Matt Sutton                – 0121 616 5920Out of hours 0845 366 6769

www.nationalgridmedia.com/   Follow us on Twitter

Photos:

For photos relating to this news release please visit the National Grid photo stream

More information about the Visual Impact Provision project can be found at:

www.nationalgrid.com/vip

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