Norfolk MP's concern over new line of pylons

Richard Bacon MP and pylons

Richard Bacon MP said there was a general feeling that a wider range of options on the new pylons should be consulted on. - Credit: Ian Burt/UK Parliament

A Norfolk MP has joined thousands of people in criticising plans for the construction of a new line of pylons through his constituency. 

Richard Bacon, the Conservative MP for South Norfolk, questioned whether the National Grid’s ‘East Anglia GREEN’ proposal to build a new power line down to the Thames Estuary needed to go over ground.  

National Grid has argued that its ‘Green Energy Enablement (GREEN)’ project is needed because the region’s current pylons will be unable to cope with the amount of energy generated by wind power over the coming years.

The utility company is consulting on its proposal for the overhead line to run from Dunston, near Norwich, to Tilbury in Essex.

A map showing the new proposed power line through south Norfolk.

A map provided by National Grid shows the proposed route of the new power line, in purple. The line itself would run somewhere within the width of the purple band. Norwich can be seen to the north-east. The blue lines are existing cables. - Credit: National Grid/Google

But the scheme has come up against opposition from people across the region, who argue the pylons will be unsightly and damaging for wildlife. More than 7,000 of them have signed a petition calling for the line to run offshore.

They have now been joined in their concerns by Mr Bacon, who said: “I think there’s a general view that the approach that National Grid has taken has precluded certain options from the get-go, and then tried to consult on a narrow range, rather than looking at it properly.

Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon questioned whether the overhead line could not go underground or offshore. - Credit: UK Parliament

“I have a particular concern about why they wouldn’t bury them underground and have a more sensible approach to the whole-life costs, which it turns out they can when they feel like it. 

“You only have to look at the strength of Storm Doris to see what the potential downside is of having them above ground. 

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“Over a 50 or 60-year cycle, you could make a very strong case that actually it’s much cheaper to do it underground in the end, because the maintenance costs are so much lower.

Electricity pylons on the landscape at Wormegay. Picture: Ian Burt

A power line at Wormegay in west Norfolk. The National Grid has argued a new overhead power line is needed to help the UK meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. - Credit: Archant

“But that’s aside from the other question of whether we shouldn’t have an offshore grid, which I’ve always thought we should. 

“That might then make it much more logical to have a sub-sea route entirely around to Essex.”

A National Grid spokeswoman said the company was "proposing underground cables where the route crosses the Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty [on the Suffolk-Essex border]."

The company's director of new infrastructure, Zac Richardson, has said that the firm does not believe it is "technically feasible or economic" for the line to go offshore.

The National Grid's consultation can be found at: https://www.nationalgrid.com/electricity-transmission/network-and-infrastructure/infrastructure-projects/east-anglia-green