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Villagers say they are under siege from Grid

Pylon line is just too close for locals

ELEPHANTINE: The pylons would be taller than 15 African elephants
ELEPHANTINE: The pylons would be taller than 15 African elephants

RESIDENTS in the village of Broad Oak have vowed to continue the fight against plans by the National Grid to run pylons through the east Kent countryside. Members of the Broad Oak Preservation Society say they feel “under siege” after the plans for pylons connecting electricity from Richborough, near Sandwich, to a site in Canterbury showed that the National Grid stills want the line to run through their village. The head of the society, Alan Holden, said the community was “united” in its opposition to the plans, which haven’t changed significantly since previous consultations held across east Kent last year.

“From the detailed proposals which National Grid have now published, the company appears determined to plough ahead with its original proposals for the route of this new power line. Despite 18 months of dialogue between villagers and the project team, during which we have expressed our major concerns about the negative impact this scheme will have on our community, the company has not altered its proposals in any way.”

Steel towers

“The detailed route published today will encircle Broad Oak with a string of 14 steel towers, each almost as tall as the main tower of Canterbury Cathedral. We have listened carefully to the justifications which National Grid have put forward for their preferred route, but it appears that they are motivated primarily by questions of cost. Our organisation has put forward a number of suggestions for variations to the route which would reduce the impact of the scheme. National Grid appear to have rejected these suggestions out of hand.”

As well as the National Grids proposals, there are plans from South East Water to build a reservoir in the area, and nearby farmland has been suggested by in Canterbury City Council’s Local Plan for housing. National Grid project manager Steve Self said his company had to balance the needs of residents, businesses and the nation but said he still wanted to see local faces bring their issues to upcoming consultations.

“This is a big project,” he said. “We need these pylons to transport electricity from Belgium to the rest of the National Grid network – securing this plan would safeguard our energy needs into the 2020s and beyond. It is vital to the UK.”

He also refuted the claim that the National Grid was not listening to residents.

“What we’re proposing with these plans is based on feedback from across the area. We have spoken to residents in Broad Oak, to Southern Water, and elsewhere, and we feel this is the best option for all involved. We try to take everyone’s opinion into account. People think we’re ignoring them, but we’re trying to get the right balance for all our projects, including this one.”

However, Mr Self did admit that, since this was the final consultation before the plans were submitted in autumn this year, he “did not expect” to make any sweeping changes to it at this late stage, barring a shocking piece of new information from the local area. Both Mr Holden and Mr Self are urging residents from Broad Oak to attend one of National Grid’s six upcoming public consultation events, to see the plans in more detail and even check out a Virtual Reality model to show what the finished pylons will look like from the village. If the proposal is successful, National Grid expects the pylons to be erected “with minimal disruption” by mid-2018. The consultation period closes March 27.

The places and times of local consultations are:
• February 19, Chislet Centre, St Mary the Virgin Church, Church Lane, CT3 4DU 2pm-9pm
• February 20, Chislet Centre, St Mary the Virgin Church, Church Lane, CT3 4DU 2pm-8pm
• March 4, Broad Oak Village Hall, 110 Shalloak Road, CT2 OQH 2pm-9pm
• March 5, Broad Oak Village Hall, 110 Shalloak Road, CT2 OQH 2pm-8pm

Electrical towers march for 12 miles

The pylons that National Grid want to make up the Richborough Connection will stretch from Richborough Substation, across the east Kent countryside, including Broad Oak, to north Canterbury. That’s a distance of more than 20 kilometres, or about 12.5 miles. If you stood the connection vertically, it would be taller than 278 Canterbury Cathedrals stacked on top of each other. It’s as long as 2,200 double-decker buses and could cover a quarter of the M20. The pylons themselves will be up to 50 metres tall. That’s only 20 metres shorter than the central tower of Canterbury Cathedral, or ten metres taller than the statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks Rio de Janeiro, and five metres taller than the Statue of Liberty. You could stack 15 African elephants on top of each other, and they would still come up short.

Herne Bay Times, February 18th 2015

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