Overhead power lines could be removed in Dorset AONB

Overhead power lines could be removed in Dorset AONB

Plans to remove an 8km section of high voltage overhead transmission line in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and bury the electric power lines underground will be considered by West Dorset District Council.

National Grid has submitted a planning application for the scheme which is the first major project to take advantage of a £500 million provision made available by Ofgem to reduce impact of existing high-voltage lines in AONBs and national parks.

The scheme aims to enhance the landscape near the villages of Martinstown and Winterbourne Abbas, as part of National Grid's Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project to reduce the visual impact of existing high voltage power lines in protected areas across England and Wales.

The company has submitted the application to the local authority and is seeking permission to remove 8.25km of overhead line and 22 pylons and replace it with underground cables. The proposal also includes the construction of two new Sealing End Compounds which are required to connect the new underground cables to the remaining existing overhead electricity line.

Over the past three years National Grid has explored a range of potential underground routes for the cables, and plans have been refined with the input of local experts including Historic England, Natural England and the Dorset County Archaeologist, together with feedback from the local community in June 2016 and July 2017.  

The section of line runs north to south close to the villages of Winterbourne Abbas, Martinstown, Winterbourne Steepleton and Friar Waddon.

Michelle Clark, National Grid VIP project manager, said: "This is a unique stakeholder-driven project, and it represents a major opportunity to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Dorset AONB landscape.

"The planning application is a significant milestone and in developing the detailed plans for the proposed underground route corridor, we have taken on board advice from a variety of local experts and organisations, as well as the local community in the nearby villages."

West Dorset District Council is in the process of registering the application and will determine the planning application by Summer 2018. If approved construction on the project would commence on site in 2019 with construction complete and the pylons removed by 2022.

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