Fury grows at Lancashire countryside pylon plans

PUBLISHED: 18:22 26 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:46 20 February 2013

Charles Valentine and David Melling in the field which the cables will cut across

Charles Valentine and David Melling in the field which the cables will cut across

A farmer says proposals to build pylons from Kirkby to Orrell will make his life a nightmare, as Paul Mackenzie reports Photography by Kirsty Thompson

Our campaign against proposals to build hundreds of huge electricity pylons through some of our most beautiful countryside is continuing to gather pace.

The planned new high voltage cables could reach from Sellafield to Heysham and then on to Padiham along the way the cables, and the 165 foot pylons needed to carry them, will cut through the Trough of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, across unspoilt moorland, tranquil farms and timeless villages.

Lancashire Life has already pledged to support the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England in opposing this plan and now scores of you have joined the fight.

Since we broke the story in our May issue the response has been phenomenal, provoking our biggest postbag for years.

The letters we received broadly fell into two camps; those from people mildly outraged at the proposal and those who were furious. None of the letters were in support of the plan to route more than 200 miles of electricity cables through some of the countys most beautiful countryside.
Many of you also contacted your local MP to register your opposition and two MPs who have added their voice to the growing clamour were Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat member for Westmorland and Lonsdale and Conservative David Nuttall in the Bury North constituency.

After being alerted to the proposal by our feature, Mr Farron said: I have spoken to the people from National Grid in order to stress the importance of the unique landscape and the AONB. I am hopeful they will agree to adopt an alternative option to route the cables through the bay missing out Arnside and the Kent Estuary.

And Mr Nuttall, a member of the Arnside/Silverdale AONB Landscape Trust, added: In my opinion there has already been too much intrusion into the visual landscape first with pylons and now with wind turbines which are springing up everywhere more than two dozen of which I can see from my own front window.

But the Sellafield to Padiham route isnt the only electricity cabling proposal causing consternation around Lancashire. A farmer in Upholland is concerned about the potential impact of a plan to take power lines from Kirkby to Orrell.

David Melling, who farms 140 acres of arable land, fears the effect of having the cables across his land, held up by a dozen 13 metre wooden poles.

David wrote to Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman MP, to express his concerns. In his letter he said: It is archaic that in this day and age power lines are still being routed over land, affecting the long term productivity of land, particularly at a time when we are going to need substantial increases in our food production.

The construction of the line overhead will make working the land a nightmare, in fact one of my regular contractors has stated that if the overhead line goes ahead he would not wish to continue with the contract.
David also rubbished claims that putting the cables underground would cause more disturbance to his land three gas pipe lines have been buried across his farm and in spite of initial upheaval the land quickly returned to full productivity.

The farm has also been heavily involved in schemes to attract more wildlife and has seen increases in the numbers of barn owls and lapwings to the land. And David also has concerns about the effect the power cables would have on the large numbers of pink footed geese which graze and roost on the farmland.

Placing the cable underground would satisfy everyone concerned, David added. That would also safeguard the wildlife concerns and minimise the visual impact on a sensitive landscape.

A spokesman for Electricity North West said: We have carried out a full consultation with the planning authorities and with all affected landowners. We have adjusted our plans where possible to cause minimum disruption and reduce any environmental impact.

The new line is essential as we need to reinforce the network to ensure security of electricity supplies to a large number of customers. We will ensure the line is built and maintained in line with all legislation and safety requirements. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently consulting Natural England on the plans.

But Davids neighbour Eddie Thomas added: We have written to two separate government departments but in the three months since we wrote weve had no response whatsoever. Im getting to the end of my tether with this now, its beyond a joke.

What do you think of the planned new electricity cables?

Leave a comment below or send your views to letters@lancashirelife.co.uk or write to us at Lancashire Life, 3 Tustin Court, Port Way, Preston, Lancashire, PR2 2YQ

In defence of Pylons

Flash Bristow has been fascinated by electricity pylons since she was a young girl, gazing out of the window on long boring car journeys.

And its an interest she has not grown out of. Flash a nickname which stuck and eventually became her official name by deed poll is the founder of the Pylon Appreciation Society.

Pylons have their detractors, she said. But if we want electricity then we just have to put up with them.

There was an advert when I was young for the privatisation of the National Grid which showed pylons marching across the landscape. I started to look out for them and saw there were all different types of pylon which did different things. The more I looked, the more they intrigued me.

I wrote about it on a blog in 1999 and other people came forward and contacted me, saying I thought I was the only one. It became apparent we needed a group. The Pylon Appreciation Society now has almost 600 members, aged from two to 77.

Members can enjoy a range of benefits including a field guide to the pylons of Britain, a badge and a print showing the parts of an electricity pylon.

But given the strength of feeling being generated along the proposed route of the pylons through our countryside, Flash is unlikely to be inundated with membership requests from Lancashire in the near future.

And she acknowledges that her passion is one not everybody shares. Some people dont like pylons and I respect that, Flash added.

There are all sorts of designs of pylon, including shorter ones which dont break the skyline. They are lattice designs, so when you look at a pylon most of what you see is the view beyond if they had solid sides, they would stand out for many more miles. As it is they have quite an uninvasive design and are as minimal as possible.

In Iceland pylons are designed as lattice sculptures of people holding the wires and there is a design competition underway in this country now to create a new look pylon. Hopefully that will come up with something which will be more appealing to more people.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Danes have buried many of their power cables but Flash said: Putting the cables underground is an option, but it is anywhere between four and 25 times more expensive.

A pylon every third of a mile, with a relatively small footprint, will be less destructive in an area of outstanding natural beauty than digging a trench every inch of the way to bury the cables. And a wire on a pylon is easier to get at for maintenance work, too.

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