Call for National Grid to ‘reduce visual impact’ of plans for 100 miles of power cables through mid-Wales
A Plaid Cymru MP has called on the National Grid to work with Wales to reduce the visual impact of plans for over 100 miles of electricity cables between the north and south of the country.
National Grid SEO want to build power lines could be built from Bangor in the north to Swansea in the south as part of a plan to upgrade Wales’ electricity network and take advantage of offshore power.
A trustee or the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales told Nation.Cymru that he was “very shocked” at the plans that would see an “unprecedented industrialisation” of mid-Wales’ countryside.
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, however, said that Wales needed to improve its grip capacity, but do so in a way that was sympathetic to the environment.
“The lack of grid capacity in Wales is a chronic problem, stalling both onshore and offshore low-carbon developments,” she told Nation.Cymru.
“This week I urged the UK Government to work with the Welsh Government to set a precondition for any development of sufficient capacity to ensure that local, small-scale energy projects too can access the grid at low cost.
“Given that the proposed plan would install cables through Eryri and beautiful natural landscapes all along western areas of Wales, it is crucial to reduce the visual impact of pylons and power lines as much as possible.
“I am seeking a meeting with the National Grid to ensure that all options including subsea alternatives are considered as part of the consultation process. Local people and their livelihoods – many of which are reliant on the natural beauty of our landscapes – must be fully considered.”
Dr Jonathan Dean, a Trustee for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, however, told Nation.Cymru that he was “shocked” at the scale of the plans.
“The publication of this report has been long expected, and the early design showed a subsea link from north to south, which made perfect sense,” he said.
“But all that seems to have been dropped now in favour of a new line of pylons. I am shocked! Very, very shocked.
“The industrialisation of the countryside will be unprecedented and on a scale mid-Wales has never seen before. It makes an absolute mockery of their plans to remove a handful of pylons from Snowdonia.”
National Grid SEO’s documents identify “a new network need in Wales between North Wales and South Wales” to be “essential” and “options that need acceleration to a 2030 delivery date”.
According to the company, the plans are part of £50bn of investments across the UK’s electricity network and would be the biggest upgrade in 60 years.
Wales’ is an offshore wind power hotspot, with The Crown Estate announcing plans to generate an extra 4GW of electricity through floating winds farms off the coast of Wales earlier this month.
But plans to lay power cables from the north to the south of Wales are likely to prompt concerns about the visual impact on rural areas and communities.
National Grid ESO’s own interactive map shows the network passing through Eryri National Park in the north of Wales, and through Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, two largely rural counties.
They have warned however that the map is “illustrative” and “highlights an identified need to transmit volumes of energy from point A to point B and does not represent specific cable routes”.
Liz Saville Roberts raised the issue with Jane Hunt, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
“The lack of grid capacity in Wales is a chronic problem, stalling both onshore and offshore low-carbon developments. National Grid’s pathway to 2030 proposes a new connection between north and south Wales,” she said.
“Will the Minister commit to working with the Welsh Government to set a precondition for any development of sufficient capacity to ensure that local, small-scale energy projects can access the grid at low cost?”
Jane Hunt responded: “We always work to ensure adequate capacity. Perhaps the right hon. Member could meet National Grid to talk about that, but if she would like to come back to me on the point when she has done so, I will be happy to meet her.”
Similar plans have already prompted protests in Lincolnshire, where a route is noted on the map to transport energy from the north to the south of England.
A Westminster Hall debate on plans for East Anglia is scheduled for later this month.
Lincolnshire Council have warned that “there is a need to connect electricity generated by offshore wind into our national grid, but I believe that other options are available to protect our east coast from giant industrialisation”.
“I could not support this application without all other options being explored first – for example, an offshore grid, or a single connection on the mainland,” Councillor Colin Davie, the executive councillor for strategic planning at the council, told Lincolnshire Live.
National Grid ESO has said that that more detailed designs will be prepared and that a full consultation on its plans will be carried out.
National Grid ESO is the electricity system operator for Great Britain. It became a legally separate part of National Grid in 2019, with the intention of becoming a independent state-owned body though parliament.
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