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Fears that new electricity link plans could see pylons built all the way from north to south Wales

04 Jan 2023 4 minute read
Electricity pylons. Photo Gareth Fuller PA Images

Siân Williams

Fears have been raised that a chain of electricity pylons may be built stretching from north to south Wales

The Director of a charity founded to protect rural Wales has warned of proposals that could see electricity transmission infrastructure “ built in places it’s never been before” and says if the plans were to go ahead they “will devastate the landscape”.

Dr Jonathan Dean, Director of The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), receives daily updates on electricity transmission projects from the energy regulator Ofgem and recent information shared by them has led him to believe that there are – as yet unfinished plans – to build a string of pylons from Bangor to Swansea.

Whilst emphasising the word pylon is not mentioned in the Ofgem update of 15 December 2022, Dr Dean explains why he concludes that the regulator is describing 50-metre-high pylons.

“They describe the new north-south connection as a ‘double circuit’ which means a metal tower with the arms hanging out on either side of a pylon. On each side of that is a circuit, so when someone talks about a double circuit line, invariably it’s a pylon line.”

Dr Dean added that in the footnote of the diagrams it says no technology has been selected.

“But if that were true you wouldn’t call it a double circuit line,” he argues.

£3 billion

The Network Option Assessment (NOA) produced by the National Grid states that the north – south link would cost somewhere in the region of between £2.5 billion and £3 billion.

Dr Dean argues: “You cannot give a cost for something unless you know what you’re building. It’s like saying: we’re going to build a transport system; we won’t tell you what it is but it will run on rails.

“Obviously, that’s a train (or tram) then. You don’t say double circuit and you don’t say £3 billion if you aren’t planning pylons.”

Dr Dean estimates it will take between 300 and 400 pylons to take the electricity from north to south Wales.

“For example, the line across Ynys Môn which is 30 kilo meters has about 100 pylons.”

According to Dr Dean, the north-south connection will be built because south Wales and southern England need the electricity generated in the Irish Sea off Scotland.

“The electricity will get from Scotland to north Wales under the sea,” he said.

The route from Bangor to Swansea has not yet been mapped out.

“This is because the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) have yet to declare that the electricity will be moved over land.

Consultation

Dr Dean said: “I would imagine they are working out the route as we speak and will come out with a public consultation with one option only to ask us what we think of it.

“This is based on their behaviour elsewhere in the UK.”

He is referring to the East Anglia Green project which caused outrage amongst locals in 2022 when the National Grid released plans to build a 180 km cable on 50 metre pylons through Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

This has also led to a rebellion amongst Westminster Tory MPs.

Dr Dean said: “They sprung it on the people of East Anglia and asked what do you think? They weren’t expecting pylons of course and my fear is that they’ll do the same in Wales. When there’s no time do anything else they’ll just tell us where the pylons are going.”

Time is indeed a factor because the UK Government’s plans to reduce emissions by 2030.

Nation.Cymru asked the National Grid press office whether they agreed with Dr Dean’s conclusion that ‘double circuit’ means pylons.

They said: “The project you reference has been identified by National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) in its Holistic Network Design and Network Options Assessment (NOA) as being an essential network reinforcement to help deliver the government’s 2030 offshore wind targets.

It’s one of a number of options still at an early stage of development, and still subject to further detailed design assessments. We would refer to those two documents for the latest information on the proposal.”


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Frank
Frank
30 days ago

Bury the cables in Offa’s Dyke and fill it in.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
30 days ago

Again Wales is being blighted to supply the National Grid with power i.e. England. The irony is rail & road infrastructure desperately needed that would not only connect North & South Wales together but spread wealth around our country is continually denied with cost & terrain always cited the reason, not to mention it’s Wales-only, and anything Wales-only doesn’t benefit England will never be built, unless it’s dams to harness our water resource , LNG pipeline carved through South West Wales from Pembrokeshire to Gloucester in the English West Country, or ugly nuclear plants placed within our beautiful national parks,… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

However the plan is to remove the pylons from the Dywryd Estuary…

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago

Well, if you want “green” energy it has to be transmitted and there will be demand for additional infrastructure to deliver power to all parts of the country.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
29 days ago

Is energy a devolved or a “reserved” matter? Who is promoting this idea? Does the Welsh Government have a say?

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
29 days ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

It’s not devolved and the Welsh Government will be consulted but have no role in decision making

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
29 days ago

The issue is not about the supply of (electrical) energy but about the expected future demand for it in Cymru. We need to recognise that energy is a pollutant and we should be using less of it. It’s not only the Second Law of Thermodynamics (> heat and other losses to the environment) but the infrastructure (construction and operation), the environmental subsidy (visual impacts etc), social and other costs we need to be concerned about. From production to use, supply side and demand side, energy pollutes. Current projections imply that Cymru may soon be generating three times as much electricity… Read more »

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
29 days ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

Our electricity consumption will x3 to reach net zero as we decarbonise transport and heating

Luckily Wales can generate twice what we need from offshore wind alone

Ap Kenneth
29 days ago

Notice they will make it an undersea cable from Scotland to the north of Wales, to avoid more power lines near the Lake District. So why cannot the lines be undersea around Wales and Cardigan Bay?

Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean
29 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

In the draft version of the design from 2020 that is exactly what they were planning. Bangor to Pembroke subsea

CWL
CWL
29 days ago

It makes you wonder if this £3bn budget could be pooled with the *cough* £5bn HS2 consequential to build a combined Carmarthen to Bangor rail line and underground power network.

Last edited 29 days ago by CWL
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
27 days ago

Better to go sub-sea, less of a danger to low flying helicopters and RAF trainers and fast jets…

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