Somerset

Part of Hinkley Point to Avonmouth power link to be buried

Pylon
Image caption The National Grid had wanted to erect 37 miles of new pylons between Hinkley Point and Avonmouth

Parts of an upgrade to the power network between Somerset and Bristol will run underground through sensitive areas, National Grid has said.

The company wants to connect the proposed Hinkley C power station to the electricity network at Avonmouth.

It previously said the cost of burying the cables was "prohibitively high".

On the section of the route above ground, the old pylons would be taken down and new ones built within 0.9 miles (1.5km) of the existing route.

Protesters have said the new larger pylons needed for the upgrade would blight the countryside and have said they will continue to press for the whole 37 mile (60km) route to be built underground.

'Big issue nationally'

Campaigner Paul Hipwell, chairman of No Moor Pylons, said news some of the route would be underground, was a "huge step forward".

He added: "National Grid just look at the initial capital cost of burying the cable. We say they should look at the total costs over the 50 years' lifespan of the pylons.

"They might find that cheaper in the long term.

"This is a big issue nationally and we be lobbying politicians. We believe the existing grid is now in the wrong place and the cables should be buried around the coastline."

The fight has also been taken up by the Conservative MP for North Somerset, Liam Fox, and the Liberal Democrat MP for Wells, Tessa Munt.

Somerset County Council said it did not want to see "potentially unnecessary or inappropriate pylons blighting the Somerset countryside".

'Sensitive areas'

A spokesman added: "We will continue to press National Grid and the government on all the options of cables underground and under-sea to make sure the selection of the route is based upon clear and robust evidence."

National Grid said the Hinkley to Avonmouth project would cost £1bn which would mean a surcharge of £1 on every consumer bill in the UK for the next 40 years.

The spokesman added that the company had been consulting with communities over the past two years regarding the pylon route.

He said: "The majority of the feedback we've had has favoured this [existing] route and that's why we have selected it.

"We've said it will be an overhead line with parts underground in sensitive areas but where that balance lies we've yet to determine.

"This is very much dependent on engagement with stakeholders and local communities."

The firm would still need to apply for permission to the Infrastructure Planning Commission before any work can be carried out.

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