National Grid intends to replace 4.6km of overhead electricity line and 13 pylons with underground cable in Wiltshire.
The energy firm has lodged a planning application to Wiltshire Council for the work north of Devizes. It requires over three years of engagement with local communities, businesses and stakeholders. In addition, National Grid has submitted a proposal to industry regulator Ofgem for the project’s funding.
The project seeks to improve the landscape in the stretch of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to the north of Devizes. It is part of the National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project to decrease the visual impact of current high-voltage power lines in protected areas in Wales and England.
Since the start of the project in 2019, National Grid has been working with stakeholders to develop its proposals, comprising Natural England, Wiltshire Council, Historic England, North Wessex Downs AONB Partnership, and the town and community councils.
Chair of the VIP project’s national independent Stakeholder Advisory Group, Chris Baines, claimed that the North Wessex Downs project was one of five proposed significant projects under the VIP plan.
He expressed: “The VIP Project is the first time that high-voltage overhead transmission lines have been removed and placed underground purely to reduce their visual impact and enhance a beautiful landscape.”
If the application gets confirmation, work on the project will begin on-site this year and finish by 2026.
Last year, Hochtief UK was granted a £207m (US$280m) contract as part of the VIP project in Eryri National Park (formerly Snowdonia) in Wales. It contains removing ten pylons and 3km of overhead power lines.
The project is a seven-year plan and will need the construction of two shafts and a 3.4km tunnel to carry electricity beneath the Dwyryd Estuary.
The work is anticipated to be completed by 2029.