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Call to save Somerset from pylon 'blight'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 03, 2013

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The Campaign to Protect Rural England is urging the Government to step in and save Somerset from the "blight" of huge pylons proposed to carry power from the planned new Hinkley C nuclear power station.

Professor Chris Lewis, chair of CPRE Somerset, says protecting the precious landscape is just as vital as establishing the correct "strike price" for the electricity that will ensure the power station is built.

He wants the Government to find the money to put the 37-mile cable carrying power from the new station underground or under sea.

The Government is still negotiating with EDF, the French energy giant which will build the plant if the price is right. It is also seeking investment partners, who will also only join if the strike price is right.

National Grid is responsible for taking the power to a sub station south of Avonmouth via a 400,000 volt cable.

Many people living along the route want the cable to be buried underground or taken under the sea. So far National Grid has agreed to underground only an 8km section through the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Now that planning permission has been given for the power station, CPRE is urging ministers to protect the entire route landscape.

Professor Lewis said "There is such strong and widespread opposition to the overland connection route across the levels that National Grid really must start to sit up and take notice.

"Given that the Government is having to offer huge subsidies to those investing in the new power station to make it an attractive proposition, we feel that the extra cash needed for undersea cabling, rather than ugly pylons which blight people's lives, should be an integral part of this package."

A consultation on the detailed route of the power line has been delayed by months.

National Grid had hoped to begin talks on the exact line of the route this month, but it now looks likely to start in the summer, although a date has yet to be set.

The draft route of the line had attracted more than 1,000 emails, letters and comments when its consultation finished in December, with the plans fiercely opposed by those who feared irreparable damage to the Somerset countryside.

The objections won some results, including undergrounding through the Mendip AONB and a number of existing 132,000-volt lines being removed.

The total number of pylons has been reduced from 240 to 145.

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