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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Decision to bury power cables in Somerset may affect what happens in Cumbria

Cumbria could be spared a massive line of new electricity pylons following a key decision elsewhere in the country.

The National Grid recently revealed two options to transmit electricity from a proposed new power plant at Moorside, near Sellafield.

One could see scores of pylons erected to carry the power up the coast and across to Harker, north of Carlisle.

However, there is also scope to bury cables underground or use offshore cables, and hopes of the latter will now be buoyed following a key decision in Somerset that will save the protected Mendip Hills area from similar pylons.

Environmental campaigners in the south of England are celebrating after it was announced yesterday that the landscape – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – has been spared from overhead pylons.

The National Grid confirmed that it instead plans to connect a proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point with the main grid via underground cable instead.

It said it had listened to the views of local people and experts following nearly three years of planning.

Peter Bryant, senior project manager, said: “We’ve been very keen to listen to the views of local people, for example on the importance of the Mendip Hills where we now plan to use underground cables. We’re very pleased that the new connection will take up to 95 pylons out of the landscape.”

The connection underneath the Mendip Hills will be nearly five miles long. It will also mean that the number of pylons between Bridgwater and Avonmouth will be reduced from 240 to 145.

The National Grid has now confirmed that a similar approach could be taken in Cumbria.

A spokeswoman told the News & Star: “The project in Somerset is at a far more advanced stage than our project in Cumbria/Lancashire.

“Just over two weeks ago, we announced that we are taking two of the six strategic options we originally identified forward for further development.

“At this stage, we haven’t decided which technologies we will use to make the connections but, where we have to make them using onshore routes, we expect to use a combination of overhead lines and underground cables.”

It has previously confirmed it will try to avoid the Lake District national park wherever possible.

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