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Run cables below ground, urges KCC

Controversial plans for dozens of electricity pylons around Canterbury have been condemned by Kent County Council. It is now urging National Grid to review its proposed Richborough Connection and consider using underground cables. The company plans to erect more than 60 pylons up to 50 metres tall between Richborough and the Broad Oak sub-station in Canterbury but KCC leader Paul Carter, has told the company the council opposes the “imposition of pylons on this important area of special countryside”. He says:

“There is total local opposition to the pylons particularly in the Broad Oak area due to the doubling in size of the pylons compared with the current ones and their close proximity to houses and businesses.”

Mr Carter also fears they will impact on housing plans for Hersden and Sturry as well as proposals for a reservoir at Broad Oak. In a letter to the company, he says:

“KCC strongly advise National Grid to use underground cables along the route to minimise the visual impact and to ensure it does not impact on the proposed site allocations.”

He said using underground cables should not be discounted due to cost which he advises the company to re-examine. He added:

“With further environmental restrictions likely in the future that may require the undergrounding of overhead cables, it would be better to carry out the work now.”

KCC’s intervention as a consultee has been welcomed by North Thanet’s Conservative candidate Sir Roger Gale who wants the company to scrap the Richborough Connection. He says it should consider bringing the cables from the Continent ashore at Kingsnorth on the Isle of Grain where there are disused power stations. He said:

“The planned route is so invasive and intrusive as to be completely unacceptable in an area of considerable natural beauty, disrupting fanning and small leisure businesses. There are also major objections from Southern Water over the potential for inhibiting the construction of the long-overdue Broad Oak reservoir which alone should be good reason for rejecting the Richborough Connection. If the power supply from mainland Europe is necessary, then the company are going to have to go back to the drawing board.”

But the scheme has been accepted by Canterbury City Council “in principle”. The council has been invited to comment as a consultee but is also recommending numerous amendments to the route aimed at moving the pylons further away from homes and businesses and putting the cables underground near the planned Broad Oak reservoir.

‘BEST BALANCE’

Richborough Connection project manager Steve Self said:

“We have taken on board the public’s feedback and the findings from our environmental and technical studies and we believe that an overhead line connection between Richborough and Canterbury is the most appropriate way to join the Nemo Link to our network. We have carefully considered whether there were any particularly sensitive locations where it would be appropriate to use much more expensive underground cables, but we feel that a carefully-designed and routed overhead line within the existing landscape features achieves the best balance. This important because the costs of our connections end up on everyone’s bills. We also feel that the proposed route strikes the right balance between the impact on the environment, the residents of Broad Oak and we are continuing to work with South East Water with its reservoir proposal to ensure that both projects can proceed successfully. We’re currently going through all the comments people made during our recent consultation and this feedback will help shape our thinking as we prepare our proposals for submission to the planning inspectorate this autumn.”

Herne Bay Gazette, April 9th 2015

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