POLL: Just 40p per household to bury power cables

SAVING Suffolk’s countryside from the blight of more pylons would cost every UK household just 40 pence.

That is the message from the county council as it makes its strongest criticism yet of National Grid’s plans to spend �207million connecting power cables between Bramford and Twinstead to meet growing demand.

Although the energy giant recently announced plans to bury two 4km stretches of the route through the Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley, the county council says the entire line should be buried and that the extra cost - about �400 million - would see households pay just 40p extra on their bills.

Guy McGregor, the county council’s cabinet member responsible for planning, said the proposal was being extremely seriously.

He said: “We fundamentally do not agree with the current proposal to only bury part of the new transmission line, leaving the majority of the effected land blighted by pylons.

“We welcome the opportunity to give feedback and the county council will be working side by side with local MPs, our colleagues in the district and borough councils, community interest groups and individuals to ensure that we present a united front and show National Grid that their proposals simply aren’t acceptable to the people of Suffolk.”

The council says National Grid has “underestimated” the impact of the proposals and has published its formal response to the plans in a report to the cabinet.

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The official response will say: “The estimated cost for this scheme is now �207.7m (capital cost). A wholly undergrounded scheme would cost in the region of �615m (capital cost) - approximately �400m more. “National Grid has stated that for every �1bn they invest, domestic consumers are likely to see an increase of �1 on their bill per year. Applying this logic implies that the fully underground scheme would result in only a 40p increase per household bill.

“The gap between the cost of pylons and undergrounding continues to narrow but its size is still exaggerated because the overhead line cost does not fully reflect the wider socio-economic impacts excluded from National Grid’s assessment.

“The calculations also exclude proper compensation for those affected. If these important impacts were adequately catered for the gap between an overhead line and underground routes would further diminish.” The controversial proposals were first announced by National grid nearly three years ago and have faced significant opposition.

The East Anglian Daily Times launched its own Stop the Pylons campaign as soon as the plans were unveiled and community action groups were formed.

Suffolk County Council has now firmly stated its position on the issue with its strongly-worded report, which will be considered by the cabinet at its meeting next week.

National Grid says the connection is needed to meet growing demand and the increase in energy generation along the Suffolk coast.

Senior project manager Shaun Hughes said the company had already committed an extra �150m to underground the two sections and it had to justify every spend to its shareholders.

He said: “The views of the public continue to be important to us. We are grateful to all those who have already responded and we have carefully considered the issues they raised.”

THE county council report also pours scorn on National Grid’s description of the Brett Valley - through which the pylons would march - as a “small unremarkable valley” in its recent publications.

The valley is home to picturesque villages such as Raydon, Higham, Layham and Shelley as well as the meandering River Brett and the Brett Vale Golf Club.

The report adds: “National Grid’s level of misunderstanding of what makes Suffolk special is particularly well illustrated by their description of the Brett Valley ‘as a small unremarkable valley’, yet virtually the whole of their proposed pylon route would pass through a Special Landscape Area designated in the Babergh Local Plan.

“This particular area also has a strong cultural association with the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, run by Cedric Morris from Benton End Farm between 1939 and the 1960s, which in turn attracted a range of artists including Lucian Freud and Maggi Hambling.”

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