Electricity pylons laid down and replaced by underground cables to improve views

·3-min read
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Pic: MaxWillcock/BNPS
Pylons across an area of natural beauty in Dorset are being replaced by underground cabling. (BNPS)

Huge electricity pylons and overhead cables are being pulled down in a project to improve views in the British countryside.

Around 60 miles of underground cables have been buried underground instead, replacing 22 metal pylons that previously stood in Dorset's Area of Natural Beauty.

The £116m project to remove the pylons is part of an effort to return the British countryside to its natural state.

Similar projects are planned in other areas of treasured countryside across the UK including the Peak District, North Wessex Downs and Snowdonia national parks.

The project has seen 22 pylons laid down and replaced by 60 miles of cables buried 3ft underground. (BNPS)
The project has seen 22 pylons laid down and replaced by 60 miles of cables buried 3ft underground. (BNPS)

The pylons in Dorset were installed between 1965 and 1969 and connect with substations in Axminster and Exeter.

Work on the scheme started in autumn 2019 when scans of the land were carried out to ensure it would be returned to its natural state once the project was completed.

The high-voltage circuit has recently passed its final tests and now the pylons are being felled by the National Grid.

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Paul Hamnett, senior project manager for National Grid, said: "It is the culmination of three years of complex engineering and construction work on site which would not have been possible without the dedication and expertise of the site team and the patience of the local community.

"Our goal has always been to enhance this beautiful landscape.

"Now we are seeing the fruits of our labours with the fields we used for civil engineering being reinstated and, ultimately, the successful removal of 8.8km of overhead cables and 22 pylons."

BNPS.co.uk (01202 558833)
Pic: MaxWillcock/BNPS
The pylons in Dorset were installed between 1965 and 1969 and connect with substations in Axminster and Exeter. (BNPS)

Tom Munro, Dorset AONB partnership manager, said: "It's great to see the pylons finally coming down as this ground-breaking engineering project reaches completion.

"The many archaeological discoveries arising from the project have confirmed and enriched our understanding of the South Dorset Ridgeway as an ancient ceremonial landscape of national significance.

"It has a huge number and variety of monuments from Neolithic stone circles to Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age hillforts.

"We're looking forward to seeing the landscape afresh, less cluttered by modern infrastructure.

"The ancient monuments will once again be taking centre stage and reminding us of the long story, stretching back into prehistory, of human interaction with the land."

Robert Lasseter, a farmer who lives next to one of the pylons that has been removed, said: "The view that I have is much better now, it's a relief for the construction work to be over.

"I was very keen that they took these pylons down when the plans were first mentioned.

"It has definitely been a great improvement for the landscape."

Survey work has already begun for a similar project in Snowdonia and construction of the underground tunnel for electricity cables is expected to begin in 2023.