Overhead Power Lines

Wednesday 12th October 2011

National Grid’s proposed overhead power lines

Following the announcement by National Grid of its preferred route for a power line from Hinkley Point through the Mendip Hills AONB the Mendip Hills AONB Unit have met with the company to discuss various issues. The route described in National Grid documents as Corridor 1 Option 1A, follows the existing Western Power overhead line which would be removed. Jonathan Richards, Mendip Hills AONB Unit Planning Liaison Officer welcomed this aspect of the proposals but added ‘Whilst we are pleased National Grid are not proposing additional pylons along this route, we await further details on National Grid’s actual proposals. The issues involved are very complex. For instance, placing cables underground is an option being considered. However this would involve towers in the region of 50m high known as ‘sealing compounds’ at either end of the underground sections which could be extremely intrusive within or near the AONB. National Grid was asked during the meeting why it had proceeded to announce its preferred route before the conclusion of an independent study of the subsea option. The National Grid response was that following Stage 1 consultation, it has reviewed again all the technically feasible connection options taking into account environmental and socio-economic effects including the ‘lifetime costs’ of each option. The subsea option had been ruled out not only on cost grounds but also environmental constraints in terms of impacts on sites designated in the Severn Estuary for conservation of wildlife species and habitat. In addition the need for large scale buildings to house converter stations at Hinkley Point would impact on the setting of Scheduled Monuments and on landscape and views including from the Quantock Hills AONB. The Mendip Hills Unit will be contributing to the National Grid Stage 2 consultation process involving a series of Thematic Groups to consider issues such as landscape, biodiversity, heritage, economic development and tourism impacts and scope of National Grid’s Environmental Impact assessment.. Sarah Jackson Mendip Hills AONB Unit Manager confirmed ‘We will be constantly reminding National Grid of its duty Electricity Act 1989 requiring the energy company to have regard to the desirability of preserving natural beauty, conserving flora, fauna and geological or physiographical features and the ‘Holford Rules’ which will form the basis for assessing routes for overhead lines.’ A Planning Performance Agreement involving National Grid, Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council will enable matters such as financial contributions to be agreed towards mitigating impacts of the power line and to benefit local communities and the Mendip Hills and Quantock Hills AONBs. The AONB Unit is seeking clarification from North Somerset Council and how it will engage in the process and support the AONB Unit in seeking to minimise the impact on the AONB.. For further information see national Grid’s consultation website at www.nationalgrid.com/hinkleyconnection