Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Nuclear Fallout?

This month’s exhibition in the Village Hall of the proposed Electricity Substation to be built on the opposite side of the Sedgwick Road to the existing one was an eye opener. In case you missed it, the National Grid exhibition was explaining about the need for new lines to connect a new nuclear power station at Sellafield to the National Grid and how much care had been taken to minimise the impact of the new lines on the Lake District National Park by, for example, a cable tunnel under Morecambe Bay. While much of this is necessary and a great degree of care has been taken with a large part of the new lines’ routes, there is a huge degree of collateral damage on our local landscape.

Longstanding residents of the village will remember that the substation on Sedgwick road stood in the local scene with very little landscaping since it was built. I remember being told it was built under emergency powers in the war period when landscaping would hardly have been a priority. When in the 80’s, a new pylon line was brought to Natland from Old Hutton, considerable thought was given to softening the impact of the substation. Norweb planted a little wood on its south side and this has made the substation fence, building and apparatus almost disappear even though the pylons still tower over the 30  year old trees.

The proposed new substation is said to be needed to support the removal of overhead lines elsewhere - it seems that it may be related to the removal of lines in West Cumbria though the documentation does not specify where the benefit will be.

The proposal is for two new pylon towers 90 feet (27.36 metres) high together with transformer apparatus up to 30 feet high within a 8 feet fence  about 30- 40 feet from the road side. Hedges will have to be cleared away to give sight lines for vehicles calling at the substation.  The landscaping proposals are grossly inadequate with a “woodland” 20 feet deep to the north and south of the fence with shrubs to the west and the east in the sight lines of the access. Compare this with the scale of the 30 year old wood to the south of the existing substation and you will see just how pitiful the landscape proposals are.

There is no room for any substantially better landscaping at the site because National Grid has drawn the boundaries of the site too tightly.

So what can be done?

We can accept the maximum damage to our local landscape scheme as proposed by National Grid or we can reply URGENTLY ( deadline January 6th ) to the consultation with objections. Look at the website
For the details of the plans, click on the technical documents buttons to find the ENW substation headings.

There may be alternatives which are not discussed in the consultation
1. Re-equip the existing substation with more modern apparatus.
2. Extend the existing substation eastwards to take advantage of existing landscape features (backdrop of trees and hills rising to Barrows green).
3. Extend the substation southwards and plant much more woodland to soften impact.
4. If the need for a new westerly substation is proven, greatly increase the landtake, sculpt the landforms with earth banks, dense tree and shrub planting so that the substation is not seen against the skyline as the site is on flat land  with no back drop.

Thank you for reading this report and I hope that you will register your objection to what must be one of the most cheapskate and damaging planning schemes ever to be proposed in the Kent valley.

Martin Jayne