New generation of giant power lines pose threat to our countryside

PUBLISHED: 18:30 03 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:18 20 February 2013

New generation of giant power lines pose threat to our countryside

New generation of giant power lines pose threat to our countryside

Lancashire Life reports on the campaign to stop the march of huge new electricity pylons – and urges you to join in

Join the fight

If you are concerned about this threat to our countryside you could do what Im going to do - write to my MP. If you are posting it, it should go to House of Commons, London, SW1A. If you want to send an email, there are websites that will help you to do that.

You could also drop me a line at or by post to me at Lancashire Life, 3 Tustin Court, Portway, Preston, Lancashire. PR2 2YQ and Ill publish your views.

If you accept that few things raise the spirits more than the view across an unspoilt English landscape, then it must be equally true that ugly urban sprawl and the industrialisation of our countryside has the opposite effect on us.

Put simply, the sight of this beautiful land can make us feel good. So, it should follow that weve reached the stage in our development where members of each generation are determined, for the sake of our children, to leave the planet in better shape than they found it.

Sadly, that rarely seems to happen - and Lancashire is no exception.
In our recent history, the county has borne many scars to maintain Britains industrial might. And if the government and the electricity industry has its way, it looks like another rash of blots will to be inflicted on our landscape.

Unless we kick up a fuss and stop it.

This isnt about NIMBYs. No sane person would deny that we need electricity to provide heat and light to our homes and power to keep industry running. Equally, most accept we need to find new and more environmentally-friendly ways of creating it.

But the new programme of building offshore wind farms and the new generation of more powerful nuclear power stations means swathes of our countryside are threatened by giant pylons to link output to the national grid.

More than 200 miles of new cabling is planned within the next decade and, as plans stand, a proportion goes through some of the loveliest parts of Lancashire. New cables will go from Sellafield to Heysham via the glorious coastal communities of Arnside and Silverdale.

Meanwhile, pylons from the new Heysham nuclear power station will go across to Quernmore and then cut south to Padiham across our beautiful unspoilt moors and the Trough of Bowland, an area of outstanding
natural beauty.

This is madness. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England recognises this is wrong and will fight to stop it. Lancashire Life is more than happy to provide its unqualified support.

Richard Jennison, who speaks on environmental issues for the CPRE in Lancashire, said they realised little could be done about existing pylon routes and those that went through heavily industrialised areas. But 165-foot high-voltage transmission lines through some of our most striking coastline and countryside had to be resisted.

The answer is to place them underground. The National Grid estimates that burying lines costs 22 million a kilometre compared to 1.8 million for pylons. However, there is a strong feeling that this has been greatly exaggerated.

Mr Jennison said there was evidence from Europe that burying lines could be as cost-effective as building pylons. In a more enlightened Denmark, it costs 3.5 million a kilometre.

Unfortunately, there are reports that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has told the electricity regulator Ofgem that it opposes giving the industry financial incentives to use the underground option.

Thats because the government fears there will be a public backlash if the industry passes on the extra cost of burying lines to the consumer through yet higher fuel charges.

Equally worrying are claims the DECC wants to change the regulations to make it harder for planning inspectors to stop the march of the pylons. It all sounds like a stitch-up.

The National Grid points out that a quarter of the countrys generating capacity will close and new sources, such as Heysham and the windfarms off the west coast, will require a lot of new connections.

If we were allowed to do undergrounding it would end up on peoples bills, a spokesman is quoted as saying.

Or perhaps some of it could come from the eye-wateringly high profits made by the power supply industry - money we are constantly being told is ploughed back into improving the business.

Isnt this is a prime example of exactly how that surplus should be spent?
The timetable for these horrific developments is 2021-22 but the planning stage will be much sooner. So we need to be act now to make our voices heard. The landscape of Lancashire - and many other parts of the county - is priceless. Its time to make a stand.

Roger Borrell

Latest News

National Grids public consultation on its approach to undergrounding new powerlines is due to finish on Monday July 4th 2011.

To add your comment, complete the questionnaire on the consultation website at by the closing date.

If you have more questions contact National Grid by:

Calling the project information number: 0800 319 6175
Sending an email to:
Writing to: National Grid Undergrounding Consultation, Freepost NAT3717, London SE1 2BR

For more information go to

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