Riverside views get a powerful makeover

Barsham pylons being removed

Views at a popular riverside beauty spot in the Broads have today been transformed now that three large steel pylons, which carry overhead electricity cables across the water, have been removed.

During the past few weeks, UK Power Networks has been removing overhead power lines and poles which run alongside and across the tranquil River Waveney in the Barsham and Beccles area which sits on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

The lines have been replaced with underground cables which run underneath the river.

Of special significance was the removal of the three steel pylons at Barsham which were put up to ensure that the electricity lines were raised high enough to allow sailing boats to pass underneath safely.

The removal of the pylons today marks the end of the £1.7million project which began last year and has seen the removal of more than 10km of overhead cables and more than 100 timber poles in one of the most ambitious and technically-difficult undergrounding projects ever to be undertaken in the Broads.

UK Power Networks owns and maintains the vast amount of overhead power lines, underground cables and substations which deliver electricity to the doors of more than eight million properties across East Anglia, London and the South East.

Because the grazing marshes lie within the Broads, one of the national parks, 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 East Anglia.

For Barsham, the Broads Authority put in an application to have the overhead power lines removed.

Lesley Marsden, landscape officer for the authority, said: "I am truly excited that, after five years of negotiation and agreements with landowners and town and parish councils, our vision to remove these cables has been realised.

"The removal of the three steel pylons and more than 100 wooden poles has dramatically improved the character of the Waveney valley landscape for boaters, walkers and residents. I would personally like to give my thanks to all the landowners and tenant farmers who have co-operated in this very complicated project which was inspired by the Broads Society." 

The projects are chosen by a regional steering group of environment experts and chaired by Natural England. UK Power Networks provides technical support and guidance and carries out the work.

Shaun Barrell, UK Power Networks' protected areas and major projects officer, said: "This is a fantastic project which will now ensure uninterrupted views of this beautiful river and grazing marshes.

"We are delighted to provide the expertise to place these lines underground which, once the project is complete, will make such a difference for anyone visiting or living in the area.

"Since 2005, thanks to the special allowance from Ofgem, some of the best-loved countryside in East Anglia and the South-East has been transformed by the dismantling of about 66 kilometres of overhead electricity lines. We look forward to carrying out much more similar work in the future."

Thursday 11 December 2014