National Grid has published its proposals to bury around 8 km of the new 400-kV power connection between Bramford near Ipswich, and Twinstead Tee, south of Sudbury. Following two and a half years of extensive consultation with the public, National Grid has selected two sections along the route where it believes the high cost of putting the cables underground can be justified. These underground sections of the route run through Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley.
The landscape of Dedham Vale is highly valued locally and is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The cable will run approximately 4 km from Whitestreet Green to Leavenheath. After listening to feedback from the public and experts it was clear that the Stour Valley is considered an area important not just for its high quality landscape but also its cultural links with Gainsborough, Constable and Nash. Here, nearly 4 km will be put underground.
In September 2011 National Grid announced a new approach to routing new transmission connections that placed a greater emphasis on reducing the visual impact of its projects on the landscape. The approach considers projects on an individual basis, taking into account a balance of environmental, cultural, visual, technical and cost factors. The Bramford to Twinstead project is the first time this new approach has been used.
National Grid project manager Shaun Hughes said: "When we announced our preferred corridor, we said we would look along the length of the route to see where the additional cost of undergrounding the cables could be justified. After further consultation with residents and other interested groups, and after carrying out further environmental surveys, we are proposing to build underground cables along more than a quarter of the total route."
Over the next decade, the country must make the major investment needed to deliver energy security. This project is just one step towards meeting National Grid’s challenge to modernize and extend the country’s existing energy infrastructure to ensure energy security in years to come and help meet the UK’s carbon reduction targets.
The next stage of the project will see continued discussions with landowners and consultation with the public and experts, together with detailed environmental surveys. This will help identify where within the preferred route corridor the overhead line and underground cable should be placed. National Grid will then consult on its final draft proposal, before submitting a formal consent application to the Planning Inspectorate. The application is expected to be made in 2013 after which the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change will make the final decision on National Grid’s proposals.
Hughes said: "The views of the public continue to be important to us. We are grateful to all those who have already responded and we have carefully considered the issues they raised. This feedback has been important in helping us shape our proposals. We now want to work with local communities and landowners to minimize the impact of anything we build.”
The Bramford to Twinstead Tee connection is needed to connect new power generation to the network in East Anglia. Over the next decade around a quarter of the UK's major power stations are due to close. New low carbon replacements will need to be connected to the national grid to ensure the country continues to have a reliable electricity supply. As the country builds the new generation of green power sources, it is National Grid's role to connect this power to the electricity network and to the people who use it.
The route corridor that will carry the new connection was announced in July, 2011. For the majority of its length, the corridor runs alongside an existing 400-kV National Grid overhead line and presently contains a UK Power Networks 132-kV line. This 132-kV line will be taken down between Burstall Bridge and Twinstead Tee and the new 400-kV connection will be built. A new substation will be needed to the west of Twinstead Tee to maintain power supplies to the UK Power Networks system.
When the corridor was announced last July, National Grid made a commitment to look along the whole route for areas where undergrounding the cables may be appropriate. To do this, the route was divided into six study areas. Each one was examined to consider options for an overhead line and an underground cable.
The assessment of the options identified for building the connection, including the proposals for putting the two sections underground, is set out in the Connections Options Report. The report explains how the judgements were made and how feedback received from the public has shaped the proposals to date.