National Grid is launching a new consultation on plans for a new line of pylons running through Suffolk on Wednesday - but a final decision is still more than two years away.

The proposed Norwich to Tilbury line of pylons to take electricity from North Sea windfarms into the National Grid has been hugely controversial.

It is proposed to have a line of electricity running from Norwich to Bramford, near Ipswich, and on to Tilbury.

Most would be on wires carried by pylons - although stretches in and near the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty(AONB) and in the Waveney Valley on the Suffolk/Norfolk border would go underground.

Ipswich Star: Campaigners have been trying to keep pylons away from Suffolk beauty spots for many years.Campaigners have been trying to keep pylons away from Suffolk beauty spots for many years. (Image: Newsquest)

The new line of pylons would allow National Grid to remove about 20km of existing pylons between Bramford and Stowmarket.

There have already been two rounds of unofficial consultations in the area during which changes have been made.

The two stretches of underground cables were agreed - and National Grid has agreed to the underground areas and it has also changed the route in the area near Wattisham Flying Station to avoid overhead wires interfering with training flights.

Simon Pepper from National Grid said putting power lines underground cost between four and 10 times as much as it did to put them on pylons - and any increased cost would have to be reflected in electricity bills for consumers across the country.

Planning laws meant there was a presumption that cables should go underground through AONBs, but in other areas there had to be very significant factors to justify the cost of putting them underground.

The consultation period - which will include public exhibitions and meetings - will continue until mid-June and National Grid will then analyse the results.

The formal application for permission to build the new line of pylons is expected to be sent to the relevant government department in the middle of 2025.

Because it is nationally-significant infrastructure project, the final decision on whether the power line will be built will be made by the Secretary of State.

Local councils will be consulted at all stages - but the final decision will be made at Whitehall.

Liam Walker from the National Grid said the line of pylons should not be seen as simply a way of taking electricity generated in the North Sea to London which only uses 20% of the power generated.

He said: "This is part of the national network transmitting power around the country - and 80% of that power is needed away from London.

"This is vital to sending power all around the country including East Anglia. It is wrong to think this region will not benefit from this power."

A final decision is not expected to be made by the government until the second half of 2026 - and if the go-ahead is given National Grid expects to start work in 2027 and be ready to switch on power from 2030.

The consultation will be another opportunity for protesters worried about the impact of the pylons on the landscape to have their say.

They are calling for more work to be done to take the electricity generated in the North Sea to different places away from the Suffolk and Norfolk coast.

Many Conservative MPs in the region have spoken out against the proposals - although the government's Department of Energy Security and Net Zero has been seen as being generally sympathetic to plans to upgrade Britain's electricity distribution system.

Ipswich Star: Rachel Reeves talked about energy policy during her visit to the region in February.Rachel Reeves talked about energy policy during her visit to the region in February. (Image: Charlotte Bond)

During her visit to the region in February, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves made it clear that while an incoming Labour government would look at compensating residents whose lives were affected by new pylons, its main priority would be to ensure energy security and ensuring the nation's power network was upgraded.