Published: December 21, 2010
MP welcomes start of consultation on underground power lines

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has this week welcomed the start of a public consultation period on burying new power lines in our area underground in place of building huge pylons across the countryside.

It comes after National Grid's controversial plans for a 400,000 volt, 37-mile line linking Hinkley Point with a sub-station at Avonmouth, running past Burnham-On-Sea, provoked a storm of complaints earlier this year.

Now, National Grid is inviting feedback from the general public until 16th March 2011 on the 'undergrounding' of power lines.

MP Tessa Munt told this week: "This is a real stride for people power - it's nice to know that National Grid is listening."

"Over the past 14 months National Grid has been consulting the public about proposals to build a new overhead line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth. The line is needed to connect the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point."

"National Grid initially proposed two potential routes for the 152ft tall overhead pylons. These monster pylons would ruin our countryside, wreck our tourism, reduce house prices, and compromise forever our chances of gaining World Heritage Site or even National Park status. Visitors are essential to Somerset’s economy, but who will want to visit or holiday in a county whose countryside is scarred by these vast, metal towers, humming continuously and lit like Christmas trees – only all year round?"

"National Grid has said that it has delayed announcing its preferred route corridor till early 2011. This is the second delay to the announcement. It was originally due to be announced in Spring of this year. National Grid then announced in November 2010 that it would carry out a detailed appraisal to assess all the different options, including underground and subsea cables, as well as overhead lines, before announcing its decision."

"This in itself was a huge success. The largest consultation response National Grid had ever received was about 300, but with the Pylon issue here in Somerset they have received over 3,000. On December 15th National Grid announced a public consultation nationally on when the company should underground electricity cables. The move follows this massive outcry from the people of Somerset objecting to National Grid's proposal."

"I am happy to support the No Moor Pylons group in asking people in the area to respond to the consultation with a firm 'NO' to new overhead lines. The consultation precedes what is expected to be the largest roll out of new electricity power lines in a generation."

"Burying electricity cables may be more expensive but, according to National Grid, the cost is only about £1 per person per year for this project. A 2009 consumer survey by Ofgem found that 52 per cent of consumers were willing to pay more on their energy bills to have overhead cables removed."

"The consultation document ‘Undergrounding high voltage electricity transmission – the technical issues’ produced by National Grid is heavily weighted towards overhead lines but this attitude is something we can change by enough of us commentating and supporting the underground option."

"This is a fight we are winning thanks to the well organised, professional and passionate No Moor Pylons group and the hard work of the people of Somerset."

A National Grid spokesman said: "We last reviewed our undergrounding policy in the early 1990s. We are now seeking views on how the policy should be updated from industry, political, non-governmental and environmental stakeholders as well as the public between 15 December and 16 March 2011. Once the consultation is completed, we'll carefully consider all the feedback received. The feedback will be used to inform our new approach to undergrounding, which we plan to publish in April 2011."

The National Grid consultation website can be accessed here.


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