150 residents fill public hearing near Burnham to raise pylons
150 residents filled a village hall near Burnham-On-Sea last night
(Tuesday) when the Planning Inspectorate held a public hearing
on controversial plans by National Grid to build a 37-mile line
of huge pylons across the Somerset Levels between Hinkley Point
Grid's plans came under attack by concerned residents and councillors
during the hearing in Mark Village Hall.
Anne Fraser, from Sedgemoor District Council, told the meeting
that the proposed 400,000 volt pylons represent "an intrusion"
across the countryside and that the plans would have a "severe
impact on the landscape."
said the proposed T-pylons would create an "alien, industrial
landscape," adding wryly that the huge proposed pylons would
look "like a huge wind turbine with something like Pat Butcher's
ear-rings either side."
said that a request for community impact mitigation is "entirely
appropriate", adding that the council is seeking £100,000
towards the River Parrett flood barrier scheme from National Grid.
"That's the top limit that a developer can be asked to contribute,"
Parker, representing three parish councils, told the meeting that
the sub-sea power route option was preferred. However, he said
the public had been "misled and uniformed" about the
sub-sea option because National Grid had appeared to disregard
this early on as 'technically impossible'. He added that the proposed
T-pylons are "untried and untested new technology" that
poses a risk to the environment.
Fisher, a resident from Tarnock who lives under the planned pylons
route, said her property is being "blighted" by the
plans. She said National Grid has not listened to residents like
her, adding: "they have asked for feedback but not taken
any notice of the responses." She said: "The impact
on people and the environment would be massive - the view from
Crook Peak is wonderful and I don't understand why anyone would
want to destroy it."
Shepherd, another resident living on the pylons route, said the
structures would severely effect several thriving businesses near
him which he claimed "have been overlooked and completely
ignored." He added that the pylons would effect "real
people and real lives and are part of an undermining of the community."
He went on to say: "Why didn't they try to spread the infrastructure
further away from people. They have not given proper attention
to the impact on people and our communities."
Bamsey, Corporate Director at Sedgemoor District Council, right,
told the meeting that the authority is "extremely concerned"
by the low level of mitigation proposed by National Grid, which
he says offers "little to counter balance the local impacts."
went on to say that the council has also been "disappointed
at the level of dialogue" provided by National Grid so far.
He also said that Sedgemoor "does not object in principal
to the scheme or route, but is interested in seeking the best
Corkish from Mark Parish Council told the meeting there had been
"overwhelming opposition" to the scheme, with visual
intrusion the key concern of residents. She said that the 15 pylons
in her parish, each 31-metres wide, could not be hidden by trees
and would be "alien to the landscape." She went on to
say that the plans "would have a major impact on the amenity
value of the homes, would effect local tourism, and would change
the local character."
Van Der Bijl, Mark Parish Council Chairman, told the meeting that
the "overwhelming feeling in the parish is that the public
is opposed to the pylons route and that the consensus is that
the sub-sea route under the Bristol Channel or a redefined route
is preferred." He said that the process had "not been
fair or reasonable, leading to cynicism and trust being a factor."
added: "For National Grid to say the pylons will blend into
the landscape is frankly ludicrous," and he questioned why
the parish should be "penalised when proven alternatives
Tessa Munt told the hearing that the plans "should be rejected
and re-thought seriously", adding that they contravene national
environmental government policies. She went on to say that the
plans would severely hurt the local tourism economy. "This
would be wanton vandalism - it would effect many incomes and would
have a huge impact."
had a chance of this area being named the 17th World Heritage
site and that's now gone because of this scheme."
added that "all pylons are unacceptable and no mitigation
is acceptable," adding that she is "completely unclear
why electrical supplies remain a dinosaur service running overhead
and not underground" when other options such as gas lines
Hipwell from the No Moor Pylons campaign group said that more
work needs to be carried out on understanding the other options.
"There are alternatives such as GIL - Gas Insulated Lines
- whcih have been operating for 30 years with not a single failure."
He added: "It would be nice to see the public asked to give
their views on the options with proper public consultation undertaken."
Alison Hamlin from East Huntspill aired her "great concern"
about vehicle access during any build of the pylons, especially
given that heavy lorries will want to use Factory Lane which she
said would be "totally unacceptable" and would cause
disruption to residents and businesses.
Heappey, the Conservative's General Election candidate, told the
meeting that the because nearby wind farms had been turned down
on visual amenity and tourism impact concerns, the pylons should
be rejected too. He added: "While it's impossible to put
a cost on the impact of tourism, the pylons would spoil the 'shop
window' for tourists entering Somerset - and that first impression
would be damaged." He added that the public felt there are
"real suspicions that key decisions have already been taken"
and that discussions with National Grid are like "pleading
with the executioner."
added that National Grid's energy strategy does not appear to
fully take into consideration the future energy scenarios. "They
see huge potential from energy creation in the Bristol Channel,
but they have not reconciled the considerable number of connection
requests or factored in a cost / benefit analysis."
Penrose also raised health fears during the session, asking whether
the effects of radiation from the power lines had been fully considered.
Brown, on behalf of National Grid, ended the hearing by saying:
"We are grateful for the contributions made and we will be
responding to all the points made."