Mid Wales

Cefn Coch chosen as Powys substation site

Campaigners have reacted angrily to the village of Cefn Coch being picked as the preferred site for a controversial electricity substation in Powys.

The hub could be linked to more than 100 pylons in a corridor along the Vyrnwy Valley and parts of Shropshire.

Opponents say the substation and the pylons, to connect to wind farms, will disfigure the countryside.

National Grid said a combination of overhead lines and underground cables was "likely".

Pylons, some measuring 154ft (47m), are expected to carry a 400,000 volt (400 KV) cable from the substation to the national transmission network in Shropshire.

Meanwhile, feeder lines are planned to transfer power from proposed wind farms to the substation.

Image caption Protesters said pylons would "destroy" the countryside

Montgomeryshire Against Pylons (Map) called the decision a "travesty" and has held a meeting for residents in Cefn Coch, near Llanfair Caereinion.

It said massive pylons would "destroy countryside" through Llansantffraid near Welshpool to Frankton near Ellesmere, Shropshire.

A spokesman said: "We will fight them in the community, in the press, on the councils, in parliament, in public inquiries and through the courts at every level if necessary, until they abandon this folly.

"This proposed devastation of our livelihoods and beautiful countryside and heritage will never happen. They shall not pass."

The National Grid announced its preferred options for the 19-acre (7.6ha) substation more than a year ago.

Abermule, near Newtown, had also been suggested as a possible location, along with a site to the south west of Cefn Coch.

The proposals, aimed at connecting with about 10 wind farms, have prompted protests. About 1,500 campaigners gathered at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay in May last year against the plans.

The National Grid, announcing the decision in Welshpool, said the network was needed to connect new wind farms in mid Wales to the high voltage electricity network in Shropshire.

A map shows a corridor from Cefn Coed through the Vyrnwy valley near Llansantffraid and Four Crosses, over the border into Shropshire to Lower Frankton.

"It has not yet been decided how the connection will be constructed but, based on work so far, it is likely that a combination of both overhead lines and underground cables will be used," said a National Grid spokesperson.

"We will now carry out more work to identify the most appropriate technology for different parts of the route."

Jeremy Lee, lead project manager for National Grid, said the scheme was at an early stage.

He added: "We will carry on listening to local views and these will play an important role as our plans progress.

"We understand people have concerns about overhead lines, but where they are used, we will work hard to reduce any visual effects by routing the line carefully and using appropriate pylon designs which could include the new T-pylon."

National Grid held public exhibitions about its plans which were attended by more than 6,000 people.

It is now planning information events following Tuesday's announcement.

Jonathan Wilkinson chairman of Map said: "National Grid seems to have little regard for mid Wales with these destructive plans they have brought forward.

"They would prefer to increase their profits, rather than underground the entire route.

"The message from communities is that we don't want to engage with your hideous plans."

National Grid said it would cost an extra £350 million to carry all the network underground for the project but a spokesman denied profit was an issue, and said any additional spending would be passed onto the consumer.

Mid and West Wales AM William Powell, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said the decision would have a huge impact on people.

He added: "While it is natural that there will be a sense of relief in the village of Abermule, and other communities along the potential southern corridor up to and beyond the Shropshire border, there are no winners from today's announcement.

Image caption Hundreds of protesters gathered in Cardiff in May 2011

"This decision is certain to have a huge negative impact on many people, therefore I think is it vitally important that those who stand to be affected take time to reflect on the options available to them.

"In any event, there must be a comprehensive compensation package for landowners, businesses and communities affected by today's announcement."

Montgomeryshire's Conservative MP Glyn Davies and AM Russell George called on communities to remain united.

Mr George said: "As far as I am concerned, there is absolutely no justification for this route announcement today, particularly when we are now not even sure that this level of infrastructure is required."

Mr Davies added: "The company is spending millions on the instructions of massive foreign energy companies, which are also spending millions foisting their grotesque structures on our countryside and it's all at the customer's expense."

'Unacceptable impacts'

Dr David Clubb, director of RenewableUK Cymru, said: "We welcome the announcement from National Grid outlining the next stage of public consultation for an upgrade to the mid Wales grid.

"Network upgrades are needed to connect the green energy generated in the area to the electricity transmission system to serve local homes and businesses.

"Onshore wind offers a real opportunity for Wales to unlock investment and create jobs."

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) said it was "very disappointed" the announcement did not include a commitment to underground the cables.

"CCW believes a failure to do so will have severe and unacceptable impacts on the landscape," it said in a statement.

Work on the substation could start in 2015.

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