Letter: The grid should go underground

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The Independent Online
From Mr David Ross

Sir: George Barker (Letters, 17 July) complains of interruptions to power supplies caused by normal bad weather. The main culprit is usually the grid, which insists on distributing high-voltage electricity along overhead power lines, supported by columns of ugly pylons across the countryside.

The solution is to put the cables underground to make them safe from the weather, but the greedy grid complains that this costs more, and it prefers to distribute its vast wealth to its directors. It has 7,000km of overhead lines but only 600km of cable.

The Countryside Commission has appealed to Offer, the Office of Electricity Regulation, to take action against the grid and against the Regional Electricity Companies, who are responsible for the low-voltage network, but without result. Offer has concentrated on cost above all else and appears to have forgotten that the Electricity Act of 1989 requires it to take into account "the effects on the physical environment of activities connected with the generation, transmission or supply of electricity".

The right approach would be for Offer to insist that the grid and the RECs adopt a policy of progressive undergrounding until all their cables are below ground and the countryside has been returned to the state in which they found it.

Yours truly,

David Ross

London, SE5