Our campaign to get the ten miles of overhead wires and pylons that deface Longdendale – one of the grandest valleys in the Peak District – put underground is cranking up a gear.
The regulator OFGEM has just finished consulting on how much electricity consumers should pay for undergrounding over the next eight years, via a “willingness to pay” survey. It has agreed to set up a fund – on a use it or lose it basis – to address the impact of 352 miles of high voltage transmission lines in protected landscapes.
This is great, but so far OFGEM has been ultra conservative and suggested a figure of only £100 millon. This cannot usefully be applied when undergrounding schemes cost between £10 – 25 million per mile. So we are urging OFGEM to think again and increase the allowance significantly.
We have joined forces with CPRE, the Campaign for National Parks and the John Muir Trust to lobby OFGEM to put enough money aside to make widespread pylon removal a reality. We are basing our arguments on evidence from a report prepared by Richard Cowell, an expert academic at Cardiff University.
Applying the fund and choosing where to spend it is also taxing OFGEM. We believe – as do electricity bill payers – that the fund should be spent on those lines nearing the end of their useful life and in need of refurbishment. National Grid has a shortlist of these which include the Stalybridge to Woodhead overhead line in Longdendale.
OFGEM’s consultation has now closed. It will publish its decision on the amount the fund will contain in December 2012.