Plans to reduce the visual impact of overhead lines welcomed

Plans to reduce the visual impact of electricity infrastructure in nationally protected landscapes across England and Wales have taken a step forward with the publication of a new study by National Grid.

Twelve sections of high voltage lines in four National Parks and a number of  Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been shortlisted as having the most significant landscape and visual impact, following an independent study overseen by leading landscape expert Professor Carys Swanwick.

The study looked at 571km of National Grid's electricity transmission lines in England and Wales's most treasured landscapes as part of its Visual Impact Provision project, which is making use of a £500m allowance, available from Ofgem until 2021.

Julian Woolford, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said the announcement followed extensive lobbying of Ofgem over a number of years to make the scheme possible.

"We are really pleased that the opportunity for more pylon free views in National Parks has moved a step closer with this announcement.

"Identifying the sections of line with the most significant visual impact is an important step in the process. With National Grid and other stakeholders, we look forward to ensuring the project continues to make good progress."

The protected landscapes which have been singled out as having existing power lines with the most significant visual impact are the Brecon Beacons, New Forest, Peak District and Snowdonia National Parks and the Dorset, High Weald, North Wessex Downs and Tamar Valley AONBs.

George Mayhew, National Grid representative on the project Stakeholder Advisory Group, said: "National Grid's electricity network is vital to our way of life, but this project will help reduce its impact on some of our most treasured landscapes. At the heart of the project is collaboration between National Grid, those organisations tasked wtih protecting Britain's treasured areas and the people who live in and visit these landscapes."

Part of the £500m allowance will be used by National Grid to mitigate the visual impact of sections of high voltage overhead lines in some of these locations. A range of engineering measures could be implemented including the replacement of overhead lines with underground cables and the re-routing and screening from key public viewpoints. National Grid is also set to use part of the £500m allocation for smaller localised visual improvement projects which can be accessed by all National Parks and AONBs with existing National Grid electricity infrastructure.

Chris Baines, chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, said working with a range of stakeholders, including the Campaign for National Parks, gave the company a major opportunity to preserve landscapes across England and Wales.

The scheme will be launched in 2015 with the ambition to provide up to £24m over six years. Decisions about other shortlisted  sites will be made in the Spring following further engagement with local stakeholders and further investigation of technical feasibility, economic, social, archaeological, environmental and heritage issues.

Notes to Editors

More information on our campaign for pylon free views can be found at www.cnp.org.uk/calling-pylon-free-views

For information about our work, contact Tony McDougal, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager - tonym@cnp.org.uk (Tel: 07766133788)

For further information about the Visual Impact Provision project go to www.nationalgrid.com/vip