How often has your enjoyment of a beautiful landscape been reduced by the impact of intrusive overhead power lines? The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, together with the other protected landscapes (AONBs and National Parks) in Eastern England, is working with UK Power Networks and Natural England to develop priority schemes to underground these unsightly lines.
Ofgem the industry regulator has provided a budget of £5.6 million for the period 2010 - 2015 in the East of England. The AONBs and the Broads Authority are working with UK Power Networks (who own the cables) and local communities to develop suitable undergrounding schemes. These are vetted by a steering group using criteria designed to ensure the work is achievable, cost-effective and has a positive impact on the landscape.
The AONB, working with UK Power Networks has already enabled the delivery of several schemes, including those in East Bergholt and Dedham, Stratford St Mary, Langham, Boxted and Stoke by Nayland. In East Bergholt and Dedham for example, with the support of the local community, over 3km of overhead cable was 'under grounded', vastly improving the views across the river valley within a very important area in terms of cultural heritage and landscape value. More recently, we have been delighted with the result of a scheme to underground 2.7km of overhead electricity lines in Stoke by Nayland. The scheme, involving the Grade II listed Tendring Hall Park and land within the Stour and Box valleys, saw 31 poles and associated wires replaced with cable and the results are clear to see in the photographs shown on this page.
Since the Ofgem allowance became available in 2005, over £1.9 million has been secured for projects within the Dedham Vale AONB. The schemes provide an immediate improvement to the quality of the landscape, where the wires and poles are often the only modern visual intrusion.
We’re always keen to hear about any other overhead power lines which you feel could be considered for any future funding that becomes available. The fund applies to the overhead infrastructure operated by UK Power Networks, which includes low voltage supplies to 11kV and 33kV wires. Schemes must be within the AONB and in open country, as work within built up areas is not eligible. Proposals usually involve the removal of wooden-pole mounted wires, and the result must be of a significant benefit to the landscape. The fund does not apply to the large pylons you may see which connect to Sizewell – these are part of the National Grid and carry much higher voltage power
For more information contact Paula Booth, AONB Officer, on 01394 445225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org