Yesterday I went to Hintlesham Community Hall for the exhibition of proposals for the four possible corridors. It was well attended. Local people had petition forms outside, calling for the electricity cables to be put underground. They only had a few refusals.
Today I went on a tour of the South Suffolk area with other County Councillors to look at the landscape issues for all the possible routes. What stands out most of all is how beautiful the countryside is. The current 400kv and 175kv pylons are a real scar on the landscape. Just because they have been there for forty odd years doesn’t make their appearance any more acceptable. The 400kv pylons are around 50 metres high and the 175 kv are 26.5 metres. The idea that there could be two parallel lines of 50 metre high pylons in such lovely countryside does not bear thinking about.
I cannot agree with Tim Yeo when he says:
“I am delighted that the main campaigners have now agreed on a single objective – opting for Option 2 as long as this opportunity is also used to bury underground all the cables, both existing and proposed. This is a sensible idea which I also strongly support.
Even if it eventually proves impossible to underground the cables along the whole of corridor 2 it is absolutely essential that cables in all the sensitive areas are undergrounded.”
This is not an acceptable position for those in corridor 2 as it leaves the door open for National Grid to only put cables underground in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a cop out. All campaigners must get behind the idea that any route must not impact on the stunning countryside in South Suffolk.
I am very interested in the proposal for undergrounding being put forward by the Stour Valley Underground group (http://www.stourvalleyunderground.org.uk/). There is also a link to the Downing Street petition on the front page of their site. They are suggesting using concrete tunnels for the cables which would be much cheaper and would not require the wide exclusion zone which National Grid suggest.
Another alternative, of course, is to use high voltage DC cables around the coastline under the sea. It makes sense if we assume that the number of offshore wind farms is likely to increase around the UK and both the Labour and Conservative parties are proposing the expansion of nuclear reactors, which are on the coast. There is no loss of landscape and power can be directed easily to where it is required in the South East. I am increasingly taken with this solution.