Every Christmas, Norway gives us a spruce tree to decorate Trafalgar Square. But this year the Danes are giving us something for Christmas too: new electricity pylons. Work has just begun to install half a dozen new ‘T-pylons’ at Eakring, near Southwell, Nottinghamshire. This is where the National Grid trains engineers to work on the pylons and power lines that criss-cross the country.
We’ve fallen for Nordic noir novels, television, music, fashion and food – and now our countryside is primed for a new Scandi invasion, as these minimalist electricity pylons are rolled out in 2015. So what makes the Danish designs better than British pylons? “They’re 35 per cent lower than the existing lattice towers,” explains Brian Endahl. “T-pylons have very few parts and a clear-cut configuration, reducing the ‘visual noise’ from the many bits and pieces on the lattice tower – creating a much more calm setting in the landscape.” Endahl led the design team at Bystrup Architects in Copenhagen, who won a competition in 2011 to bring the new pylons to Britain.
Andrew Grant was one of the judges. For the landscape architect, the T-pylons are all about modesty: “I don’t think pylons should shout out. Leave that to our beautiful landscape and landmark buildings and structures.”
The competition was organised by the Royal Institution of British Architects and some of the designs on the final shortlist of six were more daring; exciting, even: take the joint entry by Amanda Levete and engineers Arup – which looked like a yacht’s sail – or Knight Architects’ Y-shaped offering.
But for Grant, the winner was clear. The new T-pylons have a certain stylish slenderness, but their public debut could be controversial. The National Grid has them in mind for part of its new 33-mile power line connecting a series of planned wind farms in Powys to the main national electricity network in Shropshire.
But mid-Wales residents have formed protest groups to try and stop both the wind farms – and the accompanying power lines – from being built, arguing both are a blot on their landscape. In other upland areas of natural beauty, pylons could be removed altogether: the National Grid is looking to knock them down and bury power lines in areas such as the Peak District and the Tamar Valley on the Devon/Cornwall border.
Up and down the country there are groups who protest against pylons, from the Somerset Levels to the Scottish Highlands, arguing that that the only good power cable is a buried one. As well as aesthetic concerns, pylons have been blamed by some as a cause of health problems. A new design won’t assuage these detractors.
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water in Qaqortoq, Greenland
Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers in the past decade. It shrinks mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water
A boat navigates among calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Boats are a crucial mode of transportation in the country that has few roads. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots around the world strategize about how to respond to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what theyve always done: adapt. 'Were used to change, said Greenlander Pilu Neilsen. 'We learn to adapt to whatever comes. If all the glaciers melt, well just get more land
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen after being inaugurated in Longyearbyen, Norway. The 'doomsday' seed vault built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters opened deep within an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
A technician preparing to drain a vast underground lake at the Tete Rousse glacier on the Mont Blanc Alpine mountain, to avert a potentially disatrous flood. Some 65,000 cubic metres (2.3 million cubic feet) of water have gathered in a cavity, dangerously raising the pressure beneath the mountain, a favourite spot for holiday makers in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Cracked mud is picture at sunrise in the dried shores of Lake Gruyere affected by continuous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. A leading climate scientist warned that Europe should take action over increasing drought and floods, stressing that some climate change trends were clear despite variations in predictions
Cattle graze on grassland that remains dry and brown at the height of the rainy season in south of Bakersfield, California. Its third straight year of unprecedented drought, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years, and dating back as far as 500 years, according to some scientists who study tree rings
An aerial view shows tents of flood-displaced people surrounded by water in southern Sehwan town. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres met with people displaced by last year's devastating floods. Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept through the country in 2010 and affected some 20 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and damaged 5.4 million acres of arable land
An aerial view of flooding in North Wagga Wagga. Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storm and rising seas, threatening all countries but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned
Damages caused by a landslide on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca, 55 Km south of Tegucigalpa. International highways have been washed out, villages isolated and thousands of families have lost homes and crops in a region that the United Nations has classified as one of the most affected by climate change
A resident sprays water on a peatland fire in Pekanbaru district in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters because of rampant deforestation. US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday issued a clarion call for nations to do to more to combat climate change, calling it 'the world's largest weapon of mass destruction'
An excavator clearing a peatland forest area for a palm oil plantations in Trumon subdistrict, Aceh province, on Indonesia's Sumatra island. As Southeast Asia's largest economy grows rapidly, swathes of biodiverse forests across the archipelago of 17,000 islands have been cleared to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture. The destruction has ravaged biodiversity, placing animals such as orangutans and Sumatran tigers in danger of extinction, while also leading to the release of vast amounts of climate change-causing carbon dioxide
Stagnant rain water with tannery waste make the Hazaribagh area in Old Dhaka as well as Buriganga River the most polluted. Each year during the seven-month long dry season between October and April the Buriganga River becomes totally stagnant with its upstream region drying up and becoming polluted from toxic waste from city industries
Waste water from Dhaka city drained to the River Buriganga contributes to its pollutions. On the World Water Day observed in 2007 under the theme Coping with Water Scarcity, under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, DrikNEWS explores some of the images of the river. UN-Water has identified coping with water scarcity as part of the strategic issues and priorities requiring joint UN action. The theme highlights the significance of cooperation and importance of an integrated approach to water resource management of water at international, national and local levels
Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. China's Environment Ministry said it will send inspection teams to provinces and cities most seriously affected by smog to ensure rules on fighting air pollution are being enforced
But our existing metal pylons have a certain brooding, anthropomorphic charm. They originated as a standardised product developed by the American engineers Milliken Brothers and were chosen for Britain in the 1920s by Sir Reginald Blomfield, an architect who was sniffy about modernism. Yet pylons became symbols of progress: one features in the national emblem of North Korea. And they can even add to a landscape: the pancake-flat Fens of Cambridgeshire are enlivened by straight lines of pylons marching into the distance like iron giants on their way to a place that’s always just too far beyond the horizon to fathom.
Britain’s Pylon Appreciation Society (yes, really) believes that our existing pylons can be objects of mechanical beauty. Flash Bristow, a member of the society, says that, because the old design is an open one: “...most of what you’re seeing is the landscape coming through”.
“I like the familiarity of mesh pylons,” admits Andrew Grant. “But I understand that there are technical and practical advantages offered by the T-pylon. Where you see both mesh and T-pylons together I think... they will complementn each other in the landscape.” A British landscape that’s set to become a little more Scandinavian.Reuse content