New evidence shows pylon plans need rethinking

The Government has 'greatly overestimated' the costs of burying electricity cables underground, according to anti-pylon campaigners.

As a result of the findings campaigners call for current plans to build nearly 300 miles of new overhead cables to be rethought.

The report was produced by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff in association with Cable Consulting International, with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) providing quality assurance for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The study estimates it costs £22m per km to bury cables underground compared to £2.2m to run lines between pylons.

The study claims this is around 30 times cheaper than it would have been 50 years ago while also offering a more robust way to transport energy in the long term and preserving the landscape of parts of the country.

According to the CPRE the findings of its report 'vindicate' its arguments that the costs of building energy infrastructure underground is much cheaper than the Government claims.

The charity is calling for power cables to be put underground in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and claims the public is willing to pay more for this to happen.

CPRE senior energy campaigner, Tom Leveridge, said: "We believe we have been vindicated in our claims that National Grid has historically over-estimated the cost of undergrounding power cables.

"This evidence from this report shows that the current public consultations into nearly 300 miles of new power lines have been proceeding with inaccurate information.

"We want National Grid to call a halt to any planned construction and restart the consultation process but this time with the real costs and benefits made clear.

"We are also calling for a further study that looks at the wider social and environmental costs of energy transmission."

Responding to the study minister of state for energy, Charles Hendry, said: "Over the coming years major transmission reinforcements will be needed to connect Britain's new power stations.

"I know that many people are concerned about the impact that new transmission lines can have on the landscape and on local communities.

"It is essential that these reinforcements are taken forward on the basis of the best available evidence."

"While the costs of individual proposals will differ on a case by case basis, the IET's report is a vital contribution."

Luke Walsh


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