Photo: Sealing end compound at Dunford Bridge in the Peak District.
National Grid plans to reduce the visual impact of electricity infrastructure in nationally protected landscapes across England and Wales under the VIP project have reached a new landmark, following decisions by the project’s independently chaired Stakeholder Advisory Group.
In November 2014, twelve sections of high voltage lines in eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks were shortlisted as having the most significant landscape and visual impact, following a study overseen by leading landscape expert Professor Carys Swanwick.
Since then, National Grid and independent landscape consultants have done further technical work with considerable and highly detailed input from local stakeholders in each location. This has enabled the Stakeholder Advisory Group to prioritise four projects from the shortlist.
These four projects will be taken forward over the next 12 months for detailed technical feasibility works which will include environmental studies, archaeological studies and engineering work ‘on the ground’. There will also be further significant engagement with local stakeholders and communities.
Bruton Knowles is assisting National Grid in identifying the owners and occupiers of land within the study areas for each of the four projects.
National Grid transmission lines which have been prioritised in protected landscapes are:
- Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Winterbourne Abbas
- New Forest National Park near Hale
- Peak District National Park near Dunford Bridge
- Snowdonia National Park near Porthmadog
The project is using a £500 million allowance made available by Ofgem across Great Britain until 2021, to reduce the visual impact of sections of high voltage overhead lines in these locations.
The Stakeholder Advisory Group is chaired by environmentalist, Chris Baines and comprises senior representatives from organisations including the Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, Historic England, Cadw, Natural England and the National Trust.
It was established to help National Grid identify which transmission lines should be prioritised to make use of the £500 million allowance.