Pylon campaigners vow to fight on

PUBLISHED: 11:00 07 November 2012

Archant

CAMPAIGNERS against National Grid’s proposals to install a huge new power line across North Somerset have vowed to continue fighting for it all to go underground.

Yesterday (Tues) the energy giant revealed where it plans to install the 400,000 volt line, complete with 150ft pylons, which is needed to connect a planned new nuclear plant near Bridgwater, at Hinkley, with a substation in Avonmouth.

When first announced in 2009, the plans for the new line caused outrage among many people in the affected areas. Concerns were raised about the potential environmental, health and visual impacts it could have.

Many calls were made for the whole line to be placed underground but National Grid said it would be too costly.

Now, after three years of planning and public consultation, the energy company has published a precise draft route for the line and has revealed it plans to place just five miles of cables underground where the line passes through the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The rest of line will run overhead with National Grid looking at the possibility of using a new T-shaped pylon design.

Heading north through North Somerset from the AONB, the new line will broadly follow the route of the existing WDP overhead cables, passing to the west of Congresbury and Yatton, to the east Kingston Seymour and then between Nailsea and Tickenham.

At Tickenham Ridge, the cables will follow the only natural gap in the woodland and cross the end of Cadbury Camp Lane.

From there it will run between Clapton-in-Gordano and Portbury, avoiding the ancient Priors Wood.

The line will then turn north-east to run parallel with the M5 near Portishead before crossing the A369 and continuing on to cross the River Avon to the west of the existing line toward Avonmouth.

With National Grid still intent on installing most of the connection over land, campaigners have said it should listen to its consumers after an independent report commissioned by the company revealed 80 per cent of people would be willing to pay sufficient money for all new cables to be laid underground. The cost of burying the entire Hinkley C connection would be less than £1 per year on the average domestic electricity bill.

Fiona Erleigh said: “People in North Somerset fully understand that burying cables will cost more but it is a price they are very willing to pay to protect our beautiful countryside for ourselves and future generations to enjoy.

“We will be continuing with the campaign to fully underground the whole line.”

North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox has also said he will continue the fight, as has North Somerset Council.

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

“The under grounding 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.

“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.”

This week’s announcement has revealed the installation of the new connection will mean Western Power Distribution’s (WDP) existing 132,000 volt line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth wil be taken down. Replacing this will mean the affected route will have 95 fewer pylons.

This will be a relief for residents living in the west of Nailsea where there are currently two 132,000 volt lines running over the top of homes and gardens. One will be replaced by the new 400,000 volt line, which will be installed away from homes and along Tickenham Moor, and the second, which needs to remain, will be placed underground.

Fiona Erleigh added: “This is really good news for those residents – the removal of concerns about health issues and property blight.”

National Grid will consult on its detailed proposals next year and hopes to include the use of the T-pylon in that consultation.

It will then make a formal application for consent to construct the connection to the Government, which will make a decision based on a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate.

National Grid senior project manager Peter Bryant said: “We’ve been very keen to listen to the views of local people.

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

* More information about the draft route can be found online at www.hinkleyconnection.co.uk

Community information hubs set up in Colliers Walk, Nailsea, and Congresbury’s Old School Rooms will also be open until December 18. Both will be open from noon to 6pm Monday to Friday and the Nailsea hub will also be open from 10am-2pm on Saturdays.


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