A regional steering group of environmental experts has given the go-ahead to remove about 8.5 km of overhead power lines on the Sussex Downs, UK. The team of experts regularly meets to assess projects to install underground cables in place of overhead power lines in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and national parks. The group was established by EDF Energy Networks, which is responsible for the power distribution network in the South East. Over £870,000 is being invested to remove overhead network and the supporting poles in three areas of the South Downs.
The projects will be of particular benefit to residents who enjoy the views of the Downs from Jevington, Seaford, Saltdean, Telscombe, Rottingdean and Woodingdean. The work will also have a positive impact on all visitors to these popular beauty spots. The first project will see over 1 km of network and 19 wooden poles removed from the picturesque Cuckmere Valley, near Seaford. Then, as part of a two phase scheme, 2.3 km of power lines and 24 wooden poles which run along the edge of Friston Forest, between Friston and Jevington, will be taken down. A further 5.2km of power lines will be taken down between Telscombe Tye and Woodingdean.
These major projects will have a significant positive impact on the landscape in the area. The rolling hills of the Downs will have several lengths of power lines removed and underground cables installed in their place. Barry Hatton, EDF Energy Networks Director of Capital Program, said, “EDF Energy has brought together environmental experts from every AONB and national park in the South East and East of England to ensure that the funding we have will have maximum impact on the region’s most beautiful landscapes. The projects which the committee have approved in the South Downs are great evidence that the system is working and we are proud to lend our technical expertise to bring them to fruition.” Martin Beaton, South Downs Officer at the South Downs Joint Committee said: “This is a very welcome opportunity to remove intrusive power lines from the Sussex Downs AONB. Such landscapes have been recognised by successive governments as having the highest level of protection due to their natural beauty. To remove some of the most prominent power lines has been a desire of the Joint Committee and its predecessor organizations for a long time, and this is reflected in the South Downs Management Plan. The Joint Committee particularly welcomes the lead taken by EDF Energy in setting up a steering group and providing technical help through a dedicated project officer.” This investment has been made possible thanks to a special allowance which EDF Energy Networks has been given by industry regulator Ofgem. This allowance means that EDF Energy Networks has £7.7million to invest up until 2010 on projects to install underground cables in place of overhead lines in AONBs and National Parks in the South East.