MP Liam Fox: National Grid consultation was "waste of time"
By The Bristol Post | Wednesday, November 07, 2012, 08:00
CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to erect a 400,000-volt power line have been ignored by National Grid, it has been claimed.
Plans of the route of the new power lines revealed by the energy giant show huge pylons running through the Gordano Valley – and North Somerset MP Liam Fox immediately branded the company's consultation with residents a "waste of time."
There was some better news for campaigners in Nailsea after National Grid agreed to site the power lines further away from their properties – and towards Tickenham.
And one five-mile stretch of the line will be buried underground to protect views of the Mendip Hills Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty.
People living along the western fringes of Nailsea have campaigned for the last three years for the route of a new power line proposed by National Grid to be changed. Residents said the towering pylons – which would have been just a few metres from their homes – would have caused a blight on their properties, pose possible health problems and destroy the nearby countryside.
Although National Grid has agreed to dismantle both existing 132,000 volt lines which cross people's gardens in Causeway View and Rhyne View on the edge of Nailsea – they will be replaced with much bigger pylons carrying a 400,000 volt line, albeit further away from their homes.
While the news that the line would be moved was welcomed there is still disappointment the cables will not be underground along the whole route.
Nailsea Against Pylons Action Group spokeswoman Fiona Erleigh said: "This is good news for the people of Nailsea. I am pleased that National Grid has listened to their concerns and moved the proposed power line further away from homes.
"However, we will still be pressing for the entire route of this new power line to be put underground."
North Somerset Council deputy leader Councillor Elfan Ap Rees said: "Naturally we are pleased to see that National Grid has listened, in part, to the objections raised by the council and North Somerset residents and that the new line through the AONB will now be buried and the existing line removed. However I am disappointed that, to date, they are only proposing to bury one of the existing 132,000 volt lines on the Nailsea-Portishead sector whilst replacing the other with the new line overground.
"This is not what residents want to hear and we will continue to argue for the whole overhead line to be underground to improve the appearance of our countryside."
A stretch of about five miles of the line will be put underground through the Mendip Hills AONB.
The line will then go towards Yatton and follow the existing route towards Churchill and Sandford, where a new sub-station will be built.
The existing power line which crosses Tickenham Ridge will be taken down, with the new line being routed to avoid the historic Priors Wood at Portbury.
The line will then come over the hill and follow the M5 before crossing over and following the A369.
The Portbury Wharf nature reserve will not be affected.
The line from Portbury Dock to Avonmouth will follow the western edge of the village and the taller pylons along the river will be replaced with smaller ones. The existing overhead line above Avonmouth Church of England Primary School will also be removed.
Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose said: "This is great news for everyone who lives in and visits the Mendip Hill Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I'm absolutely delighted a combination of local pressure and good sense have won through."
But North Somerset MP Liam Fox said: "Generally, these plans are very disappointing and will reinforce the impression that the whole consultation was largely a waste of time. There are some minor improvements with fewer lines across Nailsea.
"The undergrounding of lines across the Mendips is welcome, but nothing is being done to reduce the environmental impact of potentially higher pylons across Tickenham Ridge."
National Grid senior project manager Peter Bryant said: "We've been very keen to listen to the views of local people. We understand people have concerns about overhead lines, but where they are used, we will work hard to reduce any visual effects by routing the line carefully and using appropriate pylon designs, which could include the new T-Pylon."
Yatton councillor and environmentalist Tony Moulin said: "People will remain very disappointed at these proposals. What many people of Yatton wanted was for the line to be undergrounded and for these options to be seriously considered by National Grid.
"What they have ended up with is large pylons which follow the line of the existing route.
"People are still questioning the whole reason why this scheme is needed when proposals for a new Hinkley Point C connection project power station has not even been agreed."
Tickenham parish councillor David Franks, 78, said: "We have to accept that people need electricity and it has to get from A to B safely and that there will always be pylons. Fewer pylons and power lines on the landscape has to be a good thing."