Undergrounding Overhead Powerlines
In 2004-05 the Government highlighted that the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) and the electricity companies must demonstrate extra care in their work in order to help conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks and AONBs. With this in mind, OFGEM made an allowance for electricity companies to claim additional expenditure when putting overhead wires underground for visual reasons in AONBs and National Parks.
Electricity networks and conserving natural beauty.
The LWCS has worked with the two District Network Operators covering the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB, Northern Powergrid (NPg) and Western Power Distribution (WPD), and their predecessors, CE Yorkshire Electric and Central Networks, and parish councils within the AONB to submit potential schemes. Parish councils in the AONB were contacted and asked to nominate overhead lines that were felt to be obtrusive and would benefit visual amenity through undergrounding. Following favourable responses, the LWCS undertook surveys and assessments before submitting potential schemes to NPg & WPD.
The process can be a long one, with design, costings and wayleaves all to be undertaken, along with complicating issues such as sharing of poles for telecommunication and road lighting services, before lines can finally be undergrounded.
Over the past 10 years, there has been some great work done in the AONB in terms of visual improvements:
• Northern Powergrid have removed over 13km (8 miles) of overhead line, along with associated infrastructure, at an investment of over £1,750,00
• Western Power have removed nearly 12km (7 ½ miles) of overhead line, along with associated infrastructure, at an investment of over £1,200,000
• A total of 15 villages have been improved through undergrounding overhead lines.
The next eight year review period promises to be even more exciting, with both low 11kv and high 22kv voltage being undergrounded. The LWCS also looks to piggy back on existing powerline replacement schemes, which will help both visually and financially in making the budget go further.
The amount that can be reclaimed via OFGEM does not cover 100% of the cost of undergrounding and it is with great thanks that the LWCS continue to work closely with colleagues both at the NPg & WPD and from other AONBs and National Parks to ensure that the most visual improvements and wider benefits can be gained for our Protected Landscapes.