Environmental campaigners celebrate after Mendips are spared new line of electricity pylons


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The Independent Online

Environmental campaigners were celebrating today after it was announced that the Mendip Hills have been spared from a massive line of electricity pylons.

The National Grid said it planned to connect the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point with the main grid at Avonmouth by underground cable instead.

The draft plan for the 400,000 volt power connection means that the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been saved from overhead pylons.

National Grid said it had listened to the views of local people and experts following nearly three years of planning.

Peter Bryant, National Grid senior project manager, said: "We've been very keen to listen to the views of local people, for example on the importance of the Mendip Hills where we now plan to use underground cables.

"We're very pleased that the new connection will take up to 95 pylons out of the landscape.

"We understand people have concerns about overhead lines, but where they are used, we will work hard to reduce any visual effects by routeing the line carefully and using appropriate pylon designs, which could include the new T-Pylon."

The National Grid said the connection underneath the Mendip Hills would be nearly five miles long.

The new route will mean an existing 132,000-volt line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth can be taken down.

A number of other shorter sections of that line will be removed to enable construction of the new line and a substation will be needed in the Sandford area.

The number of pylons between Bridgwater and Avonmouth will be reduced from 240 to 145, the National Grid said.

It will consult on the proposals during 2013.

John Penrose, Conservative MP for Weston-Super-Mare, welcomed the announcement.

"This is great news for everyone who lives in and visits the Mendip Hill area of outstanding natural beauty," he said.

"If these whopping great pylons had gone ahead we'd have damaged some of our finest countryside.

"I'm absolutely delighted that a combination of local pressure and good sense have won through.

"I would like to thank everybody who helped us campaign over the years, and National Grid for listening properly too.

"It shows the impact a small community can make when it bands together.

"There's another silver lining to today's news too, because, in addition to putting the lines underground through the AONB, National Grid have pledged to take down the existing, smaller pylons that run through it as well.

"This means that in a few years, our AONB could be pylon-free for the first time in its life."