January 20, 2016
Protesters consider appeal after 'devastating' Hinkley pylons decision

Campaigners say they are considering lodging an appeal against the government's "devastating" decision to allow a row of overhead power lines across Somerset, including the Burnham-On-Sea area.

National Grid's 35-metre high pylons will stretch from the proposed Hinkley Point C power station near Burnham-On-Sea to Avonmouth, passing by local villages including Mark, East Huntspill and Rooksbridge.

Paul Hipwell, Chairman of the protest group No Moor Pylons, told "I would like to think we have enough support locally to appeal this decision through a judicial review, but I don't know how we'd fund it."

"Tens of thousand of pounds would be needed and we just don't have that level of funding."

"I think there are grounds for an appeal, having waded through the government's 360-page report about the decision," he said.

"It's only when you get to page 340 that there's a mention of the alternatives to pylons, but there's no consideration of the social or environmental costs. We will be discussing this with our MP, James Heappey, to assess the next steps."

Although a small section through the Mendips will be underground, protesters wanted the entire route to be buried under the Bristol Channel but the higher cost led to this being ruled out.

Burnham-On-Sea's MP James Heappey, pictured, said: "This is a devastating decision that is utterly at odds with the views of local people. Of course Hinkley C is an important piece of national infrastructure and of course it must be plugged in to the national grid but, in my view, there was never sufficient debate over whether to go underground or under the sea."

"Throughout, it has simply been the cost of going under the sea that has been seen as the barrier. However, the cost of that technology is reducing all the time as it is being widely employed in interconnection projects and in the Western Link between Scotland and North West England. We could and should have directed that it be used for this project too."

"Thousands of Somerset residents have participated in the consultation and then then public enquiry; packed village halls along the route of the line cannot have left National Grid nor the Planning Inspector in any doubt at just how unwanted these pylons are. I pay tribute to those who were involved in the fight from the very beginning – regardless of today’s decision, parish councillors and campaigners along the route have served their communities unstintingly."

"There is now a short period in which to consider the merits of a Judicial Review but this is not a straightforward process and the chances of success are slim. I hope to meet with parish and district councillors in the coming days to discuss that option."

The estimated £500 million budget for the work will be funded through levies on customers’ energy bills, adding an estimated 22 pence per year to a typical household's bill.


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