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A Landscape Restored: 7 kilometres of a high voltage power line set to be removed in the Cotswolds

Richard Lloyd, Vice Chairman
By Richard Lloyd, Vice Chairman
13th May 2024

National Grid and Electricity Distribution Companies are funded by a price control mechanism which is set by OFGEM, the electricity and gas regulator. CPRE and a number of other environmental NGOs successfully lobbied OFGEM to allow expenditure on undergrounding overhead power lines in outstanding scenic areas.

National Grid was set an allowance of £500 million for the period 2013 to 2021 and a further £450 million for the period 2021 to 2026. This may sound a large sum but it doesn’t go very far. Undergrounding the high voltage network (400kv and 275kv) which is National Grid’s responsibility is an expensive business.

Projects are confined to National Parks and National Landscapes (AONBs). They are selected with the advice of a stakeholder panel on which CPRE is represented. Four National Grid projects so far have been implemented or are in progress – in the Peak District National Park, Dorset National Landscape, Snowdonia National Park and the North Wessex Downs National Landscape.

A firth project has been agreed and it is Gloucestershire!  Plans have been developed to underground 7km of the major transmission line which runs along the Cotswolds escarpment and close to the Cotswold Way National Trail. The most visually intrusive section will be removed from just south of Winchcombe to the A40 southeast of Cheltenham. Planning is complete and the necessary development consents will be sought shortly. National Grid provided a briefing for CPRE Gloucestershire. The work will certainly be disruptive at the time but the landscape will be fully restored and the end result will be a great achievement.