|Campaigners had said the pylons could jeopardise the Lake|
District's bid for Unesco world heritage site status.
by Emily Gosden, energy editor, The Telegraph, 24 October 2016
National Grid has unveiled plans to spend £460m burying new power lines through the Lake District, in a U-turn that will cost seven times more than erecting pylons.
The utility giant had originally planned to build 160ft-tall pylons through a 14.5-mile stretch of the national park, as part of a 102-mile cabling project along the west coast of Cumbria to connect up NuGen's proposed new nuclear plant at Moorside.
But after fierce opposition from campaigners, who warned the pylons would devastate the scenery and could jeopardise the Lake District's bid for Unesco world heritage site status, National Grid on Monday proposed burying the cables under the park.
It said it could also remove the existing lower-voltage power lines that currently stand along the route, "leaving this part of the park free of pylons for the first time in 50 years".
The company had originally said that putting the cabling underground along the entire route through the park would be "very unlikely" because of the high costs involved.
Building pylons along the 15-mile stretch would have cost between £58.5m and £70m, about one-seventh of the cost of the underground proposal.
In total the 102-mile route is estimated to cost £2.8bn, of which National Grid said the majority - some £1.9bn - was spending "to help reduce the project’s potential effect on people, places and the environment".
As well as burying the cables through the national park, National Grid has already proposed spending £1.2bn on building a 13-mile tunnel to take the cabling under Morecambe Bay to Lancashire, in order to avoid the southern reaches of the national park.
Robert Powell, National Grid's project manager, said: "Balancing the impact of the project on the landscape against its cost has involved making some difficult choices, as the cost of building a connection is ultimately passed through to energy bill payers.
"We believe the proposal we are going to consult on over the coming months strikes the best balance."
Douglas Chalmers, chief executive at Friends of the Lake District said: "We have fought a long and well-supported campaign to stop these giant pylons being built within the Lake District National Park and we’re delighted that the stunning landscape within the park has been spared from a line of 50 metre tall pylons."
However, he said the group was still concerned about plans for pylons just to the south of the park, which would affect views from within the park.
"We are still worried about areas on the west coast which fall outside of the national park boundaries where National Grid is still proposing pylons as the solution for connection. We feel that the Duddon Valley and other visually sensitive areas of the coastline south of the Moorside development site should also be considered for undergrounding," he said.
"We will be asking National Grid to extend its plans for undergrounding to protect additional areas of outstanding landscape lying within the setting of the national park."