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Protecting the countryside from unsightly electricity lines

Pylons in the Lake District Pylons in the Lake District Photo: © CPRE

There are over 7,000 km of high-voltage overhead electricity lines across England and Wales, and most of these are in the countryside.

We welcome efforts to reduce impacts of existing lines, but believe more needs to be done to reduce the effects of new lines.

Alongside other organisations, we previously called for a ‘A countryside friendly smart grid’ of pylons, which would make the best use of existing energy resources and avoid harm to our most important areas of countryside. We also jointly commissioned research into the costs of undergrounding high voltage cables, which helped convince the regulator, Ofgem, and National Grid to take forward work to reduce the visual impacts of existing lines in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Our view

Industry guidelines already say that overhead lines and substations should not be placed in National Parks, AONBs, heritage coasts or World Heritage Sites if possible. Yet there are already more than 500 km of overhead transmission lines in National Parks and AONBs. We support National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision project to reduce effects of existing lines. However, we believe it is better — financially and environmentally — to avoid impacts from new lines in the first place. More needs to be done to ensure this. We also believe there should be more research into effective methods of storing electricity.

Find out more

A countryside friendly smart grid
An independent evaluation of the costs for underground high voltage cables in Great Britain
External link Visual Impact Provision project

© Campaign to Protect Rural England, 5-11 Lavington Street, London, SE1 0NZ | Tel: 020 7981 2800 | Email: |

Registered charity number: 1089685, registered company number: 4302973