Campaigning to rid our landscape of the threat of more pylons
Welcome to the website that aims to keep you informed about our campaign to oppose National Grid’s proposals to place yet more pylons in our lovely landscape.
Hailing from the East of England, we reject National Grid’s proposals to patch up the tired old 20th century grid and demand a 21st century solution that rids the landscape of the blight of electricity pylons. Here on this website we can show you just how this could be achieved…
PYLONS: puzzled by what all the fuss is about? The Suffolk / Essex border hosts the beautiful countryside that inspired some of the world’s most celebrated landscape painters, most notably Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. In 2009, electricity transmission system operator, National Grid proposed to despoil the natural beauty of these internationally significant heritage assets with yet more pylons.
Worth protecting from the threat of more pylons?
These are truly the painter’s landscapes that inspired some of the world’s greatest works of art. Currently the area threatened by the pylon proposals is under consideration to be added to the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB.
Is it truly outstandingly beautiful and what did it inspire?
What are SVU doing now? National Grid may have put their pylons project on hold but our work goes on. Currently we are working to ensure that both National Grid’s proposals and the local authority’s positions on them are fully compliant with the government’s National Planning Policy Framework. Currently they are not. This simple article explains what we are doing, why it’s important and why we are doing it now
Most recent major development: On
Thursday 14th November 2013 National Grid announced that they are shelving the Bramford to Twinstead Connection Project due to changes and delays to the connection dates for new generators around East Anglia. They now say that instead of needing the connection around 2017, they will not not need it until the early 2020‘s. This suggests that the project has been put back around 5 years. Accordingly, the proposal for a new substation in north Essex has also been shelved so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. But this is not victory: this is a stay of execution.
The time between now and any future resumption of the project will provide us with time to make an even stronger case for more environmentally acceptable solutions that avoid blighting valuable landscapes with overhead lines and new substations.
This also makes valuable time available to work toward the proposed extension of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to include our local landscapes. Succeeding with this would bring protections and benefits that would not only help us defend our countryside from unsightly industrialisation, but also potentially make funding available to remove some existing eyesores.
SVU offer their heartfelt thanks to all who have supported us over the last few years.
The work we have done is far from wasted and SVU will be ready if we need to regroup to fight another day. In the mean while, if you want to help keep new pylons out of our countryside, support the extension of the AONB in any way you can: it’s the best way to secure the natural beauty of our area for us and for future generations.
SOLAR FARMS: Stour Valley Underground firmly support the deployment of Solar PV in appropriate locations such as on brown field sites and on rooftops. In keeping with government policy, appropriate locations do not include best and most versatile agricultural land or high value and heritage landscapes. SVU has already contested one inappropriately located solar farm proposal. Based on that experience and to support others who seek to protect such countryside, we here provide a toolkit of the relevant ministerial guidance documents along with pointers to applicable planning policy.
Quick links to four years of campaign content…
National Grid’s Substation Location Decision
On the 28th August 2013 and after much delay, National Grid announced that despite the comprehensive opposition of local communities and local government at all levels, they persist in wanting to build a new electricity substation at the A131 site NG representatives said they would back in 2011, before the consultation. The consultation has changed absolutely nothing. SVU have published an initial response which is available . National Grid’s press release is available , its letter to residents and their response to the consultation.
Also published the same day was a document from UK Power Networks that confirms our argument that some substation option costings presented to the public were grossly exaggerated and misleading. In one case UKPN had included over £40million for work that is already part of their business plan irrespective of NG’s current project. Read UKPN’s document here. UPDATE: On 30th August, National Grid revised their consultation feedback report in light of complaints from both Essex County and Braintree District councils. Find the revised version.
Spring 2013 found us fighting a proposal from National Grid to build a new substation at the gateway to the culturally significant landscapes of the Suffolk / Essex border.
On April 8th 2013, National Grid’s Substation Consultation closed. SVU’s response is an evidence based document that again presses for the solution that has full local government support: upgrade Braintree substation and connect it to the distribution grid via underground cables, then remove all redundant pylons. We also show that this has been a consultation to a predetermined outcomebeset significant flaws including wildly inflated costs for options the grid companies don’t want. This is not opinion – we present hard facts
SVU’s preferred Braintree reinforcement solution instead of a new substation receives strong support from county councils. Read Essex’s responses
On 11th February 2013, National Grid (NG) announced their wish to build a new substation in north Essex. Stour Valley Underground have already proposed economically sensible, environmentally preferable alternatives that avoid this. Our response to NG’s press release is available . Building on our success in having underground cabling and better cable routing adopted by NG, we continue to press for better solutions.
In mid 2012 National Grid published their response to our underground cable proposals. They have agreed with our proposals to route underground cables to a more southerly point but that’s about it. Intransigence suffuses the rest of their response and their reasoning is deeply flawed as we will proceed to demonstrate. Our press release on this is available.
Stour Valley Underground distributed its initial outline response to National Grid’s undergrounding proposals on 12th June 2012. The online version is available here and covers our proposals for underground cable routing, areas to be undergrounded, cable end locations, substation and redundant pylon issues. We also list the significant benefitsto be derived from our proposals to landscape and wildlifeareas. We finish with an image that sums up the whole issue.
Visualising a Substation; National Grid are currently proposing to build a substation in the north Essex countryside between west of Castle Heddingham and Twinstead and will shortly be holding project consultation events across the affected area. We visit Eaton Socon Substation to help us visualise what might be built locally and present a gallery of images to help you judge for yourself .
May 2011 Newsletter. If grid reinforcement is indeed needed between Bramford and Twinstead then we advocate putting it underground. National Grid have said that this would cost £600-900 million. In our latest newsletter we reveal that the water industry can complete a similar scale project in the same landscape for £25 million. Our latest newsletter looks at this project and asks why it supposedly costs the electricity industry so much more?
2011 sees more support for the undersea grid…
Suffolk County Council (SCC) organise the National Symposium on Future Energy Networks in London and come out strongly for a sub-sea grid for the windfarms. We contribute to the 2nd consultation on the Government’s National Policy Statements (NPS). Read the news on all this here, our NPS response or about the Symposium on SCC’s website or Groton Pylon Alliances erudite view . SCC have now released the proceedings of the day which we are glad to provide a link for. SCC have also released a 6 point list of conclusions drawn from the symposium which are also presented .
Seeing the bigger picture: we present evidence of a region wide threat to our environment from the energy industry. We have been presenting this broader view of the pylons issue to the County Councils of the Eastern Region.
Big questions answered:– How much do underground cables really cost? How should the windfarms be connected to the grid? Is underground cabling affordable? Can you put a price on the environmental impact of a pylon?
Undergrounding the power lines is for many of us a logical way to remove the blight of pylons in the countryside. Here we look at an underground cabling strategy designed to meet the needs of most of the inhabitants of the consultation area.
What’s wrong with National Grid’s pylons consultation? Rather a lot and we in SVU have linked up with activists from the Colne-Stour Countryside Association, the Dedham Vale Society and Bury not Blight to present a fulsome and comprehensive rejection of the validity of the consultation process that should have made it possible for you to develop informed opinions about the best way to reinforce the electricity grid. Read our joint submission to IPC .
An undersea grid? Read our exciting proposals for a power distribution strategy that is based on building a ring main around the coast of Britain. It is a strategy that works for all of us and provides a road map to a pylon free UK by 2040.