Power lines are coming down in coastal areas of north Norfolk as part of a £2.9 million scheme managed by EDF Energy Networks in the East of England. The energy firm is investing almost £600,000 in two separate projects which will see about 7 km of overhead power lines and 100 supporting poles removed from the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The move has been made possible thanks to a special allowance granted by industry regulator Ofgem to replace overhead power lines with underground cables in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.
A team of environmental experts regularly meet to assess suitable projects in the East of England and South East. The group was established by EDF Energy Networks, which is responsible for the power distribution network in these areas, and Natural England. The project in Salthouse will bring the removal of 3.9 km of overhead lines which currently stretch from this popular village along a tranquil open landscape which is typical of the north Norfolk coastline. The iconic church of St Nicholas and open heath and marshland can be enjoyed along this stretch of the coast. In a second project also managed by EDF Energy Networks more than 2.8 km of power lines near Holme-next-the-sea will be taken down. The overhead electricity network currently runs from Redwell Marsh, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) popular with over-wintering wildfowl and breeding waders. This SSSI is not only a popular visitor attraction but also a key point for monitoring birds along the Norfolk coast. The power line also passes through Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve, another popular site for birds and birdwatchers alike. It is hoped the removal of power lines at these sites will add to the feeling of remoteness and wilderness which is characteristic of this area of coastline.
These projects follow a successful scheme in Burnham Thorpe, where a 600 m stretch of overhead network was removed and replaced with underground cables in a £60,000 project managed by EDF Energy Networks. Nigel Collier, EDF Energy Networks Protected Areas Officer, said: “We are excited that these projects in north Norfolk have been given the go-ahead by the environmental steering group. They will have a positive visual impact on such a treasured landscape, which is not only an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but also contains Sites of Special Scientific Interest of international importance in some cases.”
Neil Featherstone, Strategy and Projects Officer for the Norfolk Coast Partnership, said: “After the success of the scheme in Burnham Thorpe we are looking forward to improving the landscape at both Holme and Salthouse during 2008-9. Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve is a highly designated conservation site which is a very open landscape and the removal of poles and cables will benefit both landscape and wildlife. Improvements to the views of St Nicholas’s Church in Salthouse will benefit an already iconic image of the Norfolk Coast. The projects have been developed jointly with EDF Energy Networks and we are very grateful to OFGEM and the power company for making this fund available for the Norfolk Coast AONB.”
The project to remove power lines in the AONB near Holme-next-the-sea is scheduled to take place later this year while work in Salthouse is due to start in 2009.