Villagers voice anger over new pylon route

NATIONAL Grid has been accused of disregarding the health and well-being of Portbury residents after revealing its latest plans for a new power line through the district.

The energy giant needs to build the new 400,000 volt line to connect a proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point with a substation at Avonmouth. However, its latest draft route for the 37-mile line has caused outrage among people in Portbury.

Since publishing its draft route corridor in September 2011, National Grid has devised a way of continuing the cables between Tickenham Ridge and Avonmouth without having to connect to a substation at Portishead.

The new proposals would take power lines parallel with the M5 and within metres of homes in Portbury.

Now, a village leader is demanding to know how the decision was made, declaring the well-being of Portbury residents has not been given the same consideration as other communities.

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Elsewhere, efforts have been made to avoid cables passing near primary schools in Mark and Avonmouth and homes in Nailsea and Tickenham. National Grid has also said it has tried to avoid archaeological or historical sites.

Portbury parish councillor Stefan Chilcott, who has contacted the Government’s Energy Secretary and Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary with such concerns, said: “The new draft route has not been consulted on with our parish and certainly shows no evidence of careful planning, passing within metres of dwellings, a local play area and school.

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“Our historic and ancient sites also pass within metres of the new draft route.

“National Grid states that ‘on balance, we believe the landscape and ecological benefits justify this decision’ - it seems that the project team are picking and choosing arguments to support this cheaper route. This is further reinforced through their assertions that the new route would have ‘the least visual impact’, ‘minimise effects on views from Portishead’ and make sure the line is ‘kept away from houses on the edge of Portishead’.

“Our village’s health and well-being seem to count for little when placed against the needs of Portishead.”

A National Grid spokesman said: “The new route was chosen because it is shorter. This will mean fewer and smaller pylons will be needed which will reduce the visual impact of the line and will avoid both Priors Wood and the nature reserve. [Portbury Wharf]

“The route runs outside the original route corridor but we believe the landscape and ecological benefits justify moving outside the corridor in this area.

“However, this is still a draft route and we are keen to keep listening to the views of local people and will continue to review the route as our plans develop.”

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