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articles > 2017

In its latest proposals for constructing an electrical connection from the proposed nuclear power station at Moorside to the national grid, the Society is pleased to note that National Grid has accepted that in the section from Drigg to Silecroft (D1 & D2) lying within the National Park boundary the cabling should be placed underground.

However, in an earlier submission, the Society argued that the impact upon the landscape of placing new and much larger pylons along the Whicham valley and the area of the Duddon Valley (Silecroft to Lindal E1 & E2) would be extremely damaging both on views from the fells looking out of the Park and the views of the high fells from outside the national park boundary.

The Society believes that National Grid has not taken into account the negative impact on the landscape of placing much larger and taller pylons along the Whicham valley and around the head of the Duddon estuary. This low-lying area within the immediate environs of the National Park means that any significant structures sited along the valley bottom and around the head of the estuary will be highly visible when viewed against the backdrop of the Lake District fells from outside the Park.

Having accepted that pylons should not be sited along the coastal fringe from Drigg to Silecroft (D1 & D2), it is not tenable for National Grid to argue that similar-sized pylons would not have a significant impact on the landscape of the park when placed just outside the boundary of the park. The pylons would pass through an area defined in character as ‘High Fell Fringe’ which extends for over a mile beyond the National Park boundary.

National Grid has accepted in other locations such as Afon Glaslyn in North Wales and the Mendip Hills in Somerset that the impact of its developments looking towards protected landscapes must be taken into consideration. However, this is not the case here. National Grid is not taking a consistent line.

Near the end of his life, Alfred Wainwright reflected on the wonders of the Lake District, an area he had known and loved for over 60 years. In Ex-Fellwanderer, he wrote:

‘The Lake District remains supreme in my affections. In terms of natural scenery it has not the grandeur of the Highlands, nor the underground challenge of the limestone country, nor the sweeping landscapes of the Pennines, yet surpasses all in innate loveliness, valley lake and fell blending so sweetly in perfect harmony. There is romance in the air, magic around every corner, every vista is pleasing; all is peaceful and relaxing, the complete antidote to urban depression. But in extent this hallowed ground is small, a paradise in miniature, and because it is small it is precious indeed, like a rare jewel it should be treasured and guarded. We should all be vigilantes.’

If the ‘rare jewel’ of the Lake District is to be ‘treasured and guarded’ then it is imperative that National Grid reconsider its proposal to site overground cabling on new, larger pylons from Silecroft to Lindal (E1 & E2) in order to prevent incalculable damage to the landscape of the Lake District.

Despite the increased cost of placing cables underground, the Society believes that this is the only option, as to allow these massive pylons to be constructed along the Whicham valley and around the head of the Duddon estuary would blight this superb landscape for generations to come.

Derek Cockell
The Wainwright Society