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£500 million to cut grid’s visual impact

£500 million to cut grid’s visual impact

Britian’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) will grant a £500 million allowance to the Visual Impact Provision project dedicated to beautifying the English and Welsh landscapes visually impacted by the National Grid’s infrastructure. This project follows a recent study run by Professor Carys Swanwick of the University of Sheffield, that shortlisted twelve sections of high voltage lines in eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks as the most prominent and protected areas direly affected by the National Grid and in need of cosmetic attention.

The protective landscapes singled out as the most aesthetically impaired include: Brecon Beacons National Park, Dorset AONB, High Weald AONB, New Forest National Park, North Wessex Downs AONB, Peak District National Park, Snowdonia National Park, Tamar Valley AONB.

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Wales' Brecon Beacons National Park - shortlisted. Image: Flickr/National Grid
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England's Peak District National Park - shortlisted. Image:Flickr/National Grid

Set to begin in 2015, the project’s funding expires in 2021 and so far the National Grid has mentioned two ways it is going to take advantage of the money. Most of the £500 million will be used to turn the mentioned landscapes into less of an eye-sore by possibly replacing existing overhead lines with underground cables or better integrating the electrical lines so they stay out of “key public viewpoints”. The National Grid said it will also delegate £24 million of its allowance for smaller visual improvements of any AONBs or National Parks with National Grid electricity infrastructure aside from those shortlisted.

George Mayhew, a National Grid representative on the project’s stakeholder advisory group, said: “National Grid’s electricity network is vital to our way of life, but this project will help reduce its impact on some of our most treasured landscapes.”

The project’s stakeholder advisory group, comprised of multiple environmental protection organisations, is helping to prioritise the sites, figure out fund allocation, and even calling for a study on how to reduce the visual impact specifically in the Tamar Valley.

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