A power infrastructure must extend across the country. The gas infrastructure is usually carried in underground pipes, so although installation may be temporarily disruptive, in the long term it should be invisible. Electricity on the other hand makes extensive use of overhead cables, which traditionally have been very visible and often intrusive in the landscape.
There are options, but they usually come at a cost. We are always looking at ways of minimising the intrusiveness of our infrastructure, and where compromises have to be made, ensuring that we proceed as much as possible through consultation and consensus.
Our most treasured places
The UK energy regulator Ofgem has allocated £500 million to work which will help to reduce the impact of existing electricity infrastructure in English and Welsh National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
The Visual Impact Provision project is being led by National Grid, advised by some of the UK’s leading landscape experts. Guiding the project, the Stakeholder Advisory Group is an independent group of organisations who will work together to identify those areas that would benefit most from the Visual Impact Provision. The group, chaired by environmentalist Chris Baines. will identify potential projects that can deliver the greatest visual mitigation of existing transmission lines in National Parks and AONBs. Visual Impact Provision offers the chance for us to work collaboratively to conserve and enhance England and Wales’ most treasured landscapes.
Pylons are the icon of electric power transmission, and their design has hardly changed for decades, while thinking about the environment has been transformed. In 2011, working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) we launched an international competition to come up with a design for a new generation of electricity pylons.
The winner was the T-pylon design, from Danish architects Bystrup. Attractive, innovative and simple the T-pylon was judged likely to blend into different landscapes while still offering the required structural performance. It is also around 10 metres shorter than traditional towers.
The competition was a first step. We are now developing and testing the design, refining it to a point where the T-pylon can be offered alongside other connection options when developing new transmission circuits. As well as considering construction, installation and maintenance aspects of the T-pylon design, our engineers are working with experts from Manchester and Cardiff Universities to ensure we understand the electrical impact of the T-pylon on the transmission system.