UK

Onshore power won’t blight countryside says Dowden, amid unease over pylons

Overhead power cables from the Dungeness nuclear power station stretching across Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Overhead power cables from the Dungeness nuclear power station stretching across Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA) Overhead power cables from the Dungeness nuclear power station stretching across Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Renewable energy can be brought on shore in a way that does not “blight our countryside”, Oliver Dowden has said, amid unease from Conservative backbenchers over plans to build more power lines.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that “trade-offs” would have to be made as the Government tries to speed up the building of new electricity cables and pylons across the UK.

But he said ministers were open to suggestions about the right way forward and would listen to the concerns of affected communities.

It comes after Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said the Government plans to “halve” the time it takes for more power lines to be built across the UK.

Mr Dowden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re working with colleagues and of course I’m open and indeed the Energy Secretary is open to suggestions.

“Ultimately, of course, there will have to be trade-offs to make sure that we get the energy on shore from the places where it is being produced, but I am confident that we can do so in a way that doesn’t blight our countryside.”

MP for Central Suffolk and Ipswich East Dan Poulter is among those representing the east of England, where National Grid plans to build a network of interconnectors, who favour offshore and underground alternatives over new pylons.

He told the PA news agency he would continue to “work with colleagues” to oppose plans to build more power lines through the region, suggesting the plans may provoke a backlash.

“When it comes to power lines connecting new sources of power production to the energy grid, what matters is where they are sited, and I remain opposed to erecting new electricity pylons across the countryside when there are better options including offshoring these new energy connections or putting them underground,” he said.

“I shall continue to work with the other MPs in our area to oppose the current plans from national grid and fight for a better plan for either an offshore or underground solution for power transmission.”

Former home secretary Priti Patel has also urged ministers to consider an undersea alternative to the East Anglia project.

Ms Patel told the Commons in April that communities were “horrified” at plans to build pylons across the entire region.

The project is to ensure new windfarms and the Sizewell C nuclear power station have a reliable connection to the grid.

The Energy Secretary has said that a report by Government-appointed energy expert Nick Winser on ways to accelerate the construction of cables and pylons will be published on Friday.

He told the BBC Mr Winser had presented his proposals to Downing Street and they were “well received”, adding: “The idea is to halve the amount of time it takes to get these connections going.”