National Grid announced its preferred route corridor for a new 400-kV power connection between Bridgwater and Seabank near Avonmouth. The connection is needed to carry power from the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point along with other renewable energy planned for the South West.
Over the next decade around a quarter of the UK’s major power stations are due to close. New low carbon replacements need connecting to the national grid to ensure the country continues to receive a reliable electricity supply. As the country builds a new generation of green power sources, National Grid’s role is to connect this power to the main electricity network. These new green power sources are often located in places where there is no existing transmission infrastructure so new connections are needed.
The announcement follows two years of extensive consultation with the public and other interested groups. After careful analysis of over 8000 responses Nat Grid chose the corridor favored by most people who expressed a preference between the options presented. The option chosen involves replacing the existing 132-kV overhead line, owned by Western Power Distribution, between Bridgwater and Avonmouth, with the new 400-kV line.
However, in certain places a second corridor was favored:
At the north end between Tickenham Ridge and Portishead
At the south end between Horsey and Woolavington, near Bridgwater
Between the substations at Avonmouth and Seabank there is one route corridor, and Nat Grid will continue to consult with residents in this area.
Having announced the preferred route corridor, National Grid will continue to work with key stakeholders including local communities to carry out environmental surveys and to consider where undergrounding or other mitigating measures such as tree planting and landscaping may be suitable.
National Grid has recently revised its approach to routing connections to place more emphasis on reducing the visual impact of transmission lines, an important issue with the public as was reflected in the consultation feedback.
Further consultation will take place during 2012, and will include working with local communities, businesses, environmental bodies and other stakeholders. This stage will examine routing options for the connection, the design and location of new substation and areas where sections of the line will need to be placed underground.
National Grid senior project manager Peter Bryant said: “The views of the public continue to be important to us. We are grateful to all those who responded during the first stage of our consultation and have carefully considered the issues they raised. These have been important in helping us make our decision.
“Now we have chosen our preferred corridor we need to look carefully at the type of technology we will use for the connection. In their feedback many people told us they wanted the cables put underground and as we continue our consultation, we anticipate that the final plans will include some undergrounding as well as overhead lines.
“We want to work with local communities and landowners to lessen the impact of any new infrastructure and we will consider areas where mitigation measures such as woodland planting, placing cables underground or the use of lower height pylons might be appropriate. Further feedback during the next stage of consultation is important to us, and we hope people will continue to be involved.”
As part of the next stage of consultation, National Grid has relaunched its project website at: www.nationalgrid.com/hinkleyconnection.