New study marks step forward in project to reduce impact of power lines in protected landscapes

Idol of Bratley

Published Friday 7 November 2014

Power transmission line with high landscape and visual impact identified in the New Forest National Park

  • £500m fund available to reduce visual impact of lines in nationally protected landscapes
  • Results of independent study commissioned by National Grid and other key bodies published today

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.

A section of transmission line in the New Forest National Park near the village of Hale has been identified as having a significant landscape and visual impact. 

It is one of 12 sections of transmission lines in eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks that have been shortlisted following an independent study overseen by leading landscape expert Professor Carys Swanwick.

The study assessed 571 km of National Grid’s 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 transmission 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 fund will be used by National Grid to mitigate the visual impact of sections of transmission 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 of existing lines, through to the screening of substations or overhead lines from public viewpoints.

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.'

New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre said: 'The high voltage electricity pylons that cross the New Forest National Park have a significant visual impact as they stride so conspicuously across the landscape. We are pleased that the stretch near to the village of Hale, in the north part of the National Park, has been shortlisted and look forward to working with National Grid over the next few months looking at technical feasibility and engaging with stakeholders. There would undoubtedly be great benefits to the landscape of taking the cables underground or screening them from certain vantage points. This opportunity is very much welcomed as part of the National Park’s work to protect the Forest.'

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. 

Decisions about the New Forest transmission line and 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.

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. 

More information about the Visual Impact Provision project can be found at www.nationalgrid.com/vip

-ends-

Notes to Editors:

*About Visual Impact Provision

All electricity transmission owners are funded by a price control mechanism which is agreed with and set by Ofgem, the electricity and gas markets regulator. Ofgem has agreed a set of price controls and incentives for the period from April 2013 to March 2021. The new price controls and incentives include a provision of £500 million to mitigate the visual impact of existing electricity infrastructure in nationally protected landscapes in Great Britain.

For National Grid, which is the electricity transmission owner in England and Wales, this means considering the visual amenity of our existing infrastructure in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world.  We own and manage the grids that connect people to the energy they need, from whatever the source.  In Britain and the north-eastern states of the US we run systems that deliver gas and electricity to millions of people, businesses and communities.

In Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country.  In the North Eastern US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles.

National Grid in the UK

  • We own the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales, operating it across Great Britain
  • We own and operate the high pressure gas transmission system in Britain
  • Our gas distribution business delivers gas to 11 million homes and businesses
  • We also own a number of related businesses including LNG importation, land remediation and metering
  • National Grid manages the National Gas Emergency Service free phone line on behalf of the industry - 0800 111 999 (all calls are recorded and may be monitored).

Media contacts

NationalGrid: Stewart Larque Tel 01926 655274                                      
Camargue: Matt Sutton Tel 0121 616 5920
Out of hours duty press officer: 01926 653000

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