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The Open Spaces Society is one of a number of organisations* that are supporting Friends of the Lake District’s campaign against National Grid’s proposals for a 24km long powerline using 50m tall pylons in the west of the Lake District National Park. This would be a huge infrastructure project anywhere in the UK, but to have this length of overhead line running through one of England’s most unique, important and well-loved landscapes would be damaging in the extreme to the character of the Lake District National Park. National Grid have said that, because there is already a line of pylons in the area, new pylons would not be damaging to the landscape; however, the proposed pylons will be nearly double the height of the existing pylons.
In a public consultation last year, National Grid presented an option where the cables could be run south of the new power station by going offshore. This was the most popular option in the consultation responses as it avoided damage to the landscape and wildlife of the National Park and was also highlighted as the best option for the environment in National Grid’s own Environmental Statement. However National Grid has chosen the onshore south with tunnel route as NuGen, the Moorside power station developer, effectively vetoed the offshore route on technical grounds (which are disputed) leaving the onshore south route as the only option on the table.
At the moment, National Grid is refusing to discuss undergrounding of the powerline in the west of the Lake District and has only put forward different overhead line routes as “mitigation”. None of these alternative routes would avoid damaging the unique coastal landscape of the Lake District National Park. This “mitigation” is no mitigation at all if we are offered no alternative to overhead lines.
We are asking people to write to National Grid, their MPs and the Government insisting that if the 400kV cables are not taken offshore, they must be put underground through and adjacent to the Lake District National Park. We are concerned that despite the evidence that Friends of the Lake District, our partners and members of the public provided them with during the last round of consultation, National Grid refuse to acknowledge the landscape value of the Lake District as a National Park and a candidate World Heritage Site.
* The BMC, Campaign for National Parks, CPRE, Friends of the Lake District, John Muir Trust, Open Spaces Society, Power Without Pylons