Campaign for National Parks welcomes latest developments to reduce the visual impact of overhead lines in National Parks

  • Contributor information: CNP

National Grid has today announced that four locations in England and Wales are to be prioritised for detailed technical work as part of the latest stage of a £500m project to reduce the visual impact of electricity pylons in protected landscapes. Up to £24m is also going to be spent for smaller landscape enhancement projects when it is launched later this year.
The four projects being taken forward over the next 12 months are:
• New Forest National park, near Hale
• Peak District National Park, near Dunford Bridge
• Snowdonia National Park, near Porthmadog
• Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, near Winterbourne Abbas
Detailed technical studies, including environmental, archaeological and engineering work will take place at the four sites and there will also be further significant engagement with local communities.
It follows decisions by the projects independently chaired Stakeholder Advisory Group, which includes the Campaign for National Parks, which for many years has been campaigning to reduce the visual impact of pylons in National Parks.
Last November National Grid announced that 12 sections of high voltage lines in eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks had been shortlisted as having the most significant landscape and visual impact, following a study overseen by leading landscape expert Professor Carys Swanwick.
Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive, welcomed the announcement: “After what has been a very rigorous process, which we have been delighted to be part of, it is exciting to know which areas have been prioritised for next steps. There is still a long way to go but this major projects will have a real impact on the ground in terms of removing visually intrusive overhead power lines and pylons in some of our most treasured landscapes.
“All of the areas on the shortlist are priorities for action. It is just that not all of them can be progressed at this time. We know there is a desire within the affected areas, National Grid and the Stakeholder Advisory Group to secure future funding so more of these schemes can be progressed in due course. We hope this is the first of many tranches of funding for this innovative project so in future more and more designated landscapes can benefit.”
Chris Baines, Chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, said: “Reducing the visual impact of pylons and power lines in our most precious landscapes is highly desirable, but it is also very expensive and technically complex so we have had to make some difficult decisions. Although four schemes have been prioritised, none of the locations on our original shortlist have been dropped and they will remain under consideration for future work to reduce the impact of National Grid’s transmission lines under the Visual Impact Provision project.”
Hector Pearson, National Grid Visual Impact Provision Project Manager, said: “This is a unique stakeholder-driven project, and it continues to represent a major opportunity to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife, cultural and environmental heritage of some Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks. We will continue to work in partnerships with stakeholders to not only mitigate the impact of our transmission lines in these areas but to also enhance the landscape, and deliver value for money.”
The protected landscapes that have not been prioritised are the Brecon Beacon National Park, High Weald AONB, North Wessex Downs AONB and the Tamar Valley AONB. These locations will remain under consideration for future work using the VIP allowance.

Notes to Editors
The Stakeholder Advisory Group is chaired by environmentalist Chris Baines and comprises senior representatives from organisations including the Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign to Protect Rural Wales, Historic England, Cadw, Natural England and the National Trust. It was established to help National Grid identify which transmission lines should be prioritised to make use of the £500m allowance.
More information about the Visual Impact Provision project can be found at
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