National Grid chooses pylons for Suffolk

Critics say the landscape will still be ruined

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The National Grid has decided to put most of its proposed new power lines for south Suffolk on pylons rather than underground.

The power company is to bury only five miles (8km) of the 17-mile (28km) route between Bramford, near Ipswich, and Twinstead in Essex.

Anti-pylon campaigners said their concerns had been ignored.

The National Grid said it cost an extra £156m to put the five miles underground rather than on pylons.

Shaun Hughes, project manager for the National Grid, said having a quarter of the route underground was a "considerable amount".

"People have said 'we want the whole route underground', but to do [that] would cost £500m and anything we spend in network does ultimately get passed through to consumers, so we need to minimise that cost wherever we can," he said.

'Countryside too valuable'

"People have indicated that the most sensitive areas are the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale and we have listened and are proposing to underground, at extra cost, in those areas."

The company's proposal is for two underground sections - one from Whitestreet Green to Leavenheath and another to the north of Bures.

It said the total cost of the 17-mile route would be £207m, compared to putting all the cables on pylons which would be £51m.

John Foster, an anti-pylon campaigner from the Essex & Suffolk Coalition of Amenity Groups, said: "The transmission pylons the National Grid are proposing would be absolutely huge and would blight the landscape.

"The concerns have been expressed by residents and, unfortunately, they have been ignored."

Tim Yeo, the Conservative MP for South Suffolk, said: "We could have policy where all future lines should be undergrounded - the cost to the consumer is about £5 a year and the countryside is too valuable to be lost in this way.

"The National Grid should go away and choose a route which is based on the best underground route rather than one based on the best overground route and come back in three years' time.

"We don't need to build the transmission capacity until the generators come online and if Sizewell C [the proposed nuclear power station] doesn't come online until 2025, then why build the line in 2014?"

The National Grid has yet to decide whether to take its proposed pylons through, or around, Hintlesham Woods, which is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

The company said it would be submitting its final proposals to the Infrastructure Planning Commission in 2013 and work could begin by 2015.

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