Removal of Overhead Power Lines
Do you know of a stretch of overhead electricity cables that spoil a special landscape in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? Would you like to see these put underground to improve the view? If so, read on…
OFGEM, the Government appointed regulator for the electricity supply industry, is continuing with the programme to underground visually intrusive electricity cables within the Norfolk Broads and the 4 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Norfolk Coast, Suffolk Coast & Heaths, Dedham Vale and part of the Chilterns) in the East of England. The current funding runs from 2015 to 2023.
UK Power Networks (previously EDF Energy Networks), as the owner of the network, is responsible for maintaining cables in the area, and is working with staff from the AONBs, the Broads and Natural England in order to ensure this funding has the maximum benefit in our most precious landscapes.
Placing cables underground is expensive and the fund has to be shared between five areas so we need to ensure that we choose sections of line for undergrounding that will result in clear benefits to the landscape, are supported by landowners and communities, avoid damage to designated sites and are cost effective.
Schemes are proposed and championed by The Broads and AONBs in partnership with landowners and local communities. Each scheme is vetted by a panel of officers from The Broads and the AONBs using criteria designed to ensure the work is achievable, cost-effective and has a positive impact on the landscape. UK Power Networks implements the selected projects. Schemes can be funded at 100% of cost, although matching funding would help to make schemes a higher priority.
The partners in this programme have decided to target this funding at reducing visual impacts of overhead electricity cables in the open countryside, rather than within town and village settings. This is because of greater complexity and expense of schemes associated with settlements. In addition, cable support structures in settlements are often shared with BT, which unfortunately does not have a similar fund. However, if the scheme gains momentum, it may be possible to consider undergrounding schemes in settlements in future.
If you would like to suggest a scheme, please contact us.
Historical scheme press releases
Burnham Overy Mills Scheme – Spring 2019
Improved views for walkers
UK Power Networks has worked with the Norfolk Coast Partnership to improve the visual aspect of this timeless local landscape at Burnham Overy.
Locals and tourists who use routes in and around Burnham Overy will also be able to appreciate the difference, with the overhead lines removed from their view as they walk along the public right of way alongside the beautiful meadows of the River Burn.
The project will see 1.1km of overhead power lines removed as well as pieces of electrical equipment with 970m of underground cable to be installed in its place to continue safely delivering power to the area.
The project will also improve the quality and reliability of electricity supplies between Burnham Norton and Burnham Overy Staithe as the village’s networks will now be fully interconnected.
Birds also use the area, including wintering wildfowl, with some instances of bird strikes being recorded so this work will remove that risk continuing.
Around half of the required cabling will be laid and funded as part of the OFGEM-funded amenity project and the other half by UK Power Networks as part of a long-term network investment plan.
The power company has now replaced 6km of overhead power lines with underground cable in the East of England in the past four years.
UK Power Networks project manager Tony Dobing said: “This is already a stunning location and removing the power lines and electrical infrastructure will only improve it further for the many walkers who use the routes in and around this area.
“The route includes an iconic windmill with many walkers pausing at this point. As it stands this view includes electrical infrastructure, but this will be removed which will also benefit the safety of local wildlife in what is a core area of the coastal habitat.
“There are also practical reasons for this work including the fact that underground cabling should be less likely to suffer damage so local power supplies will be more reliable for the area’s residents.”
Estelle Hook, manager of the Norfolk Coast Partnership, said: “We are delighted to continue working with UK Power Networks and local landowners to deliver a number of these OFGEM-funded schemes, which allow electricity distribution companies to replace overhead lines with underground cables in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks.
“This scheme at Burnham Overy was selected because of the benefits to people’s enjoyment of this lovely little river valley and their views of its iconic watermill, windmill and marshes.”
Cley Marshes Scheme – Spring 2018
New look scene at Cley as project to remove power lines completed
A North Norfolk coast beauty spot has a dramatic new look after a major project to remove overhead power lines was completed on time.
UK Power Networks, which owns and operates the electricity network, delivering power to eight million properties across the East, South East and London, was behind the £95,000 project.
The company replaced about 760 metres of overhead power lines with around 600 metres of underground cables, while a single ground level transformer replaced three pole-mounted transformers. This is a piece of infrastructure which steps down the power voltage before it is safely delivered to homes and businesses.
As well as improving the views, the removal of the overhead lines will now reduce the risk of swans who use the freshwater marshes running into power lines.
The scheme came about thanks to the work of the Norfolk Coast Partnership to develop the proposal. The cables and poles at Cley and Wiveton Hall have been safely removed at the site, which is in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The scheme was funded by a special allowance, granted by electricity industry regulator Ofgem, to enable the removal of overhead power lines to improve the landscape in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.
UK Power Networks project manager Tony Dobing said: “Having seen for myself the area before and after it is quite a transformation and hugely satisfying to see the positive impact of removing the overhead lines.
“There were some challenges with the terrain of this coastal site and some severe winter weather, but we have completed this important project on time and on budget with any disrupton to local residents kept to a minimum as promised.
“The work we have done with the support of our partners and local landowners will enhance the location hugely for future generations and will be appreciated both by those who live there and its many visitors. As well as improving the views, this should also help to make electricity supplies to residents in the area more reliable.”
Estelle Hook, manager of the Norfolk Coast Partnership, said: “More than 60,000 tourists walk the Norfolk Coast Path National Trail each year, and many enjoy the exceptional views from the trail across reedbeds and marsh to Cley Windmill at this point.
“Removal of the lines, poles and transformers has revealed the wild natural beauty of this landscape once more.”
Wells Scheme – Spring 2015
Sky views to get a powerful boost
Visitors to the North Norfolk coast have even better views of the wide open skies the county is famed for, thanks to the removal of some overhead power lines.
In March 2015, UK Power Networks removed about one and a half kilometres of overhead lines which ran across the marshes, from Wells-next-the-Sea to Pinewoods Holiday Park at a cost of £115,000. The Ofgem-funded scheme allows electricity distribution companies to replace overhead lines with underground cables in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks.
UK Power Networks owns and maintains the vast network of overhead power lines, underground cables and substations that keep the lights on at eight million properties across East Anglia, the south east and London.
The route from Wells to Holkham Beach is incredibly popular, particularly for people walking along the sea wall or using the miniature railway. With 19 wooden poles and more than one and a half kilometres of cable, the overhead lines were clearly visible, interrupting views of the fields and fresh water marshes.
Estelle Hook, policy and partnership officer for the Norfolk Coast Partnership said: “The Norfolk Coast Partnership has been delighted to develop this scheme in the Norfolk Coast AONB, working closely with UK Power Networks and Holkham Estate. The removal of these overhead lines and their poles opens up the beautiful views looking from the Wells sea wall across the marshes towards Lady Anne’s Drive.
The results also greatly benefit the large numbers of wildfowl and wintering birds which use the marsh by removing the risk of collision with the lines.”
In the five years up to 2015, £5.6million was ear-marked for such projects in the East of England and just last year views at Felbrigg Hall were restored to those of the past thanks to the funding. The next scheme runs from 2015 to 2023.
The projects are suggested by local people and selected by a steering group of experts from the region’s protected landscapes and chaired by Natural England. UK Power Networks provides technical support and guidance and carries out the projects.
Shaun Barrell, UK Power Networks protected areas and major projects officer, said: “We are always glad to be able to provide expertise for these projects. We have some stunning countryside across our distribution area and it is important to us to be able to help visitors and residents alike to enjoy it at its best. Since 2005, thanks to the special allowance from Ofgem, some of the best-loved countryside in the East and South East of England has been transformed by the dismantling of about 66 kilometres of overhead electricity lines.”
Felbrigg Scheme – Summer 2014
A glimpse of the past thanks to power line work
Pole next to the famous dovecote
An historic house in Norfolk now provides visitors with a glimpse of views from the past.
About 1.6 kilometres of 11,000-volt overhead power lines which cross the main driveway and parkland of the Felbrigg Hall estate, near Cromer, have been removed and replaced by underground cable.
Work on the £170,000 scheme was completed in spring-summer 2014.
Because the estate is part of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the lines are being removed as part of a special scheme funded by regulator Ofgem.
The scheme provides money for electricity distribution companies to replace overhead lines with underground cables in AONBs and national parks. In the five years up to 2015, £5.6million has been ear-marked for projects in the East of England.
The projects are chosen by a regional steering group of environment experts, including the Norfolk Coast Partnership, and chaired by Natural England. UK Power Networks provides technical support and guidance and carries out the projects.
Shaun Barrell, UK Power Networks protected areas and major projects officer, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide the expertise to help enhance this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Norfolk.
“The removal of the lines from the land at Felbrigg Hall will make a great difference to the views experienced by visitors. This is one of several such projects that have taken place in Norfolk since 2006.
“Since 2005, thanks to the special allowance from Ofgem, some of the best loved countryside in the East and South East of England has been transformed by the dismantling of about 66 kilometres of overhead electricity lines.”
Keith Zealand, the National Trust’s senior ranger for the Felbrigg Estate, said: “Felbrigg Estate is known for its wide open spaces and big skies. It has a serene and peaceful quality that both holidaymakers and local residents enjoy, with many making use of the walkways, fields and woods as relaxing places to escape to.
“I have always thought that one of the nicest views is looking across from the drive to the church as you enter the estate. That’s why it has always struck me as a bit of a shame that the beautiful skyline was crossed by overhead power lines.
“Burying the power cables underground has made a real difference to the look and feel of this very special place, which is an important part of the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along the Norfolk coast.”
Estelle Hook, Norfolk Coast Partnership officer, said: “The removal of these power lines has made an immediate difference to the landscape of one of the finest historic parklands within the Norfolk Coast area of outstanding natural beauty, and it’s a view that every visitor sees as they come down the main driveway to the hall.”
Dersingham Bog Scheme – Autumn 2011
Project update – November 2012
Almost exactly one year after project completion, the scheme won a prestigious CPRE Norfolk award for landscape improvement. Key members of the project team (including the Norfolk Coast Partnership, Natural England, UK Power Networks and Sandringham Estate) were reunited at the awards ceremony at the Norwich Assembly House on 21 November 2012.
Project report – December 2011
In 2011, UK Power Networks completed a £223,000 project to remove nearly three kilometres of power lines from the landscape between Wolferton and Dersingham.
UK Power Networks worked closely with the Norfolk Coast Partnership, Natural England and Sandringham Estate to replace the electricity lines which ran across Dersingham Bog with underground cables. This National Nature Reserve in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of the largest remaining areas of lowland heath left in Britain.
Engineers began installing replacement underground cables following the route of the old railway line during August 2011. This enabled the overhead power lines to be switched off and removed on 24th November 2011, along with 38 wooden support poles running across the bog. Due to the sensitive environment, the poles were cut off at ground height and the bases of the poles were left to degrade naturally over time.
The overhead cables ran from the edge of Wolferton village, across the wet acid peat of the mire, which is characterized by rare plants and insects such as the black darter dragonfly, to Dersingham Common.
The new underground cable, which is a vital link in the electricity network from Kings Lynn to Snettisham, follows the route of a disused railway line to the North West of the reserve. It then crosses the A149 Dersingham bypass to the Common.
Shaun Barrell, UK Power Networks protected areas and major projects officer, said “We are delighted to be providing the technical expertise behind such a major cable undergrounding scheme in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. By placing the cables underground we are also improving the reliability of the network in the Dersingham Common area – where at the moment they pass alongside numerous trees and tree branches can sometimes touch overhead lines causing occasional problems.”
Removing the power lines will create an uncluttered landscape in and around Dersingham Bog, affording open views that will be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.
Estelle Hook, Norfolk Coast Partnership officer, said “Few projects make such an immediate and permanent improvement to our internationally important protected landscapes as the removal of power lines. This section of electricity network stretches across a diverse habitat, taking in the mire, heath and woodland that makes up Dersingham Bog. Looking across the area in the future, youll see a wild landscape of heather, grazing Galloway cattle and ground nesting birds, no longer dominated by overhead lines.”
The cable undergrounding scheme is funded by a special allowance, granted by electricity industry regulator Ofgem, to enable the removal of overhead power lines to improve the landscape in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.
Holme-next-the-Sea Scheme – Winter 2008
EDF Energy, the electricity network distribution company for the region, completed a major scheme to remove overhead wires and poles near Holme-next-the-Sea. This was the second scheme in the Norfolk Coast AONB to be funded through a scheme for protected landscapes agreed by Ofgem, the Governments electricity regulator, following the smaller scheme near Nelsons birthplace at Burnham Thorpe in Spring 2007.
The Holme scheme involved removal of about 2.5km of overhead wires, together with the supporting poles and pole-mounted transformers and switches, across the Norfolk Ornithologists Associations Redwell Marsh and alongside the track to the Norfolk Wildlife Trusts Holme Dunes Visitor Centre, to the north of the village. The lines and poles were a very obvious feature cutting across views in a sensitive, open coastal landscape close to the Norfolk Coast Path and Peddars Way National Trail, so their removal helps to enhance the special character of this part of the AONB as well as remove collision hazards for wildfowl.
The project to place the cables underground cost over £180,000. British Telecom agreed to play their part by placing their lines in the same trench with the electricity cables, and the trench also accommodated a mains water supply for the visitor centre.
Burnham Thorpe Scheme – Spring 2007
Power lines go underground at Nelsons birthplace in Burnham Thorpe, as part of a £2.9million scheme managed by EDF Energy Networks in the East of England.
The energy firm invested more than £60,000 to remove a 600+ metre stretch of overhead network from this treasured landscape as part of a special allowance granted by industry regulator, Ofgem. Ten wooden support poles were also removed and a new transformer, distributing power to customers in the local area, installed in place of the existing overhead equipment.
At the time of the work, Norfolk Coast Partnerships Neil Featherstone said: The works to remove the overhead cables around Nelsons birthplace will greatly improve the views around this internationally significant site. The project was developed jointly with EDF Energy Networks, the local community and local agencies to get this work started.
We are grateful to Ofgem and EDF Energy for making this fund available and the works demonstrate a clear benefit to being part of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We have a number of schemes in development in other parts of this specially designated area.
The power line crossed the intimate landscape of the Burn River valley with grass meadows grazed by cattle as it would have been in Nelsons time, important for many plant and animal species and one of a series of river valleys of particular landscape significance.
The replacement underground power cables were buried across arable fields and a fresh water meadow, with appropriate monitoring of any impacts on wildlife and archaeological of the work.
Nigel Collier, then EDF Energy Networks Projected Areas Project Officer responsible for the AONB work, said: EDF Energy Networks is pleased to be working closely with the regional steering group to remove power lines from some of the most beautiful landscapes in the East and South East of England as with this particular project at Burnham Thorpe.
The first stage of the project involved installing new underground electricity cables to replace the overhead power lines. Once completed, the new network was made live and the existing overhead power lines were switched off and dismantled.