Published: December 12, 2012
Council says controversial pylons will follow a 'reasonable route'

Sedgemoor District Council is to tell National Grid that its draft route for a controversial new high voltage power line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth is "generally following a reasonable route" but that more work needs to be done on its design and on considering alternative options.

The comments follow a special full council meeting in Bridgwater on Tuesday (December 11th) which discussed a detailed report from officers and consultants who had studied the latest draft proposals for the connection which will involve taking down an existing overhead line and replacing it with fewer but bigger pylons.

National Grid recently announced the draft route for the controversial 400,000 volt power connection. A five-mile section of the route will go under the Mendip Hills, but the line will still use pylons through the Burnham area.

The officers' report found that as far as the plan for Sedgemoor was concerned, it appeared consistence with the relevant National Policy Statements.

The report added that there were specific areas of concern and that further work was required in finding and assessing existing and further options, in developing the design and in deciding mitigation.

At the start of the meeting, councillors heard from representatives of several parish councils near Burnham-On-Sea including Mark, Badgworth, Biddisham and Compton Bishop, and groups who oppose the use of pylons near properties and across open countryside. All nine speakers wanted National Grid to consider alternatives to overhead lines.

Councillors also had a presentation from officers on the project and its implications for the district.

A number of councillors echoed the feelings from the public that pylons would blight the landscape and asked the council to urge National Grid to look again at new technology and alternative routes including sub-sea.

Others pointed out the considerable challenge posed by putting cables under the Somerset Levels and Moors because of the complexity and number of water courses.

Members voted to support the recommendation from officers that a response to National Grid on its latest consultation be made by officers - in conjunction with the council leader, opposition leader and two portfolio holders - based on the report presented and comments made by the Council.

They added amendments asking that National Grid should be urged to consider options other than overhead lines.

The response is to National Grid’s latest detailed proposals and its final application is not expected to go to the Planning Inspectorate until late 2013. There will be a period of formal consultation followed by a full public examination.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Anne Fraser, portfolio holder for Strategy and Business, told Burnham-On-Sea.com that the council would continue to work closely with National Grid to ensure that the new infrastructure needed to provide secure, reliable energy to people’s homes was planned in a way that took account of the concerns of local communities as far as possible.

"We recognise that Sedgemoor has a key role to play in keeping the country’s lights on but we are ever mindful of making sure this is done in a way that bring advantages to us too and reduces negative impacts to the minimum," she said.

RELATED LINKS:

The full pylons route can be viewed here.



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