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Say no to pylons in the Lake District

Say no to pylons in the Lake District Photo: © Friends of the Lake District

It doesn’t appear to have hit the national media to any great extent yet, but what would you think if you heard that one of our most unique, important and well-loved landscapes is being threatened by having 24 km (that’s 15 miles if you think in old money) of pylons and overhead wires put through it?

And not just “normal” pylons. The ones you usually see are just over 26 metres high. These would be nearly 50 metres, about the same height as the Statue of Liberty.

So where are they going? Only through the Lake District National Park, enthused over originally by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey and latterly by the “Herdy Shepherd” and the millions of visitors who bring their billions of pounds into the County every year. The Lake District National Park going forward as a proposed World Heritage Site.

North West Coast Connections is a positive sounding project, and includes the connection between the proposed nuclear power station at Moorside by Sellafield and Heysham on the Lancashire coast.

National Grid went out to consultation last year, and it was unsurprising that the most popular of their offered options was the route that ran offshore. Not only would this avoid the damage to the landscape and wildlife of the National Park, but it was the option favoured by National Grid’s own Environmental Statement.

But with NuGen, the Moorside developer effectively vetoing the offshore route on disputed technical grounds, the line has no option but to run onshore.

You might think that an area such as this must be safeguarded. Indeed, various Government Acts – Electricity Act 1988 and Environment Act 1995 – as well as their own Holford Rules all place duties on National Grid to prevent their infrastructure from damaging protected landscapes and to provide adequate mitigation if these areas cannot be avoided. So all will be well?

No. National Grid’s offer to date of mitigation is a variation of overhead routes, none of which avoids this unique coastal landscape of the Lake District National Park. Surely this cannot fall within any reasonable definition of mitigation. They refuse to discuss undergrounding. If we were talking about solid rock and steep inclines they might have case, but this land includes arable fields and improved grassland. We wouldn’t damage biodiverse ancient woodland or heather moorland sites, and any undergrounding disruption would recover relatively quickly.

Of course, undergrounding is more expensive than going overland, but we believe that National Grid’s own estimates have been overstated, certainly when compared to similar works elsewhere in Europe, and do not consider the actual ground conditions and ease of land restoration.

We are now actively campaigning, asking our members and other organisations and individuals to write to National Grid, their MPs and to Government, asking that if these cables are not taken offshore they should be put underground where they run through or adjacent to the National Park. (There will be another 18 km running adjacent.)

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Read Neil Sinden's blog on curbing the pylons


undergrounding is more expensive than going overland, but we believe that National Grid’s own estimates have been overstated, certainly when compared to similar works elsewhere in Europe

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