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Suffolk: New cable route set to get backing – unlike Bramford to Twinstead

12:20 20 February 2013




A NEW 23-mile electricity cable is to be laid under the Suffolk countryside – prompting questions about why National Grid will not do the same for the 16 miles from Bramford to Twinstead, near Sudbury.


The new cable is to be laid from the Suffolk coast at Bawdsey to the Bramford electricity sub station and will carry power generated by the East Anglia One offshore windfarm, which is due to come on stream in 2018.

It will be laid underground, passing under several villages to the north of Ipswich, before arriving at Bramford.

The proposed route is due to be discussed by the county’s cabinet on Tuesday – but there appears to be little opposition to the plans as once the cable is laid the land it passes through will be restored.

Work to lay the cable is scheduled to take 44 weeks, but should be completed at any of the individual sites more quickly.

David Holland, who has been co-ordinating the opposition to the siting of pylons from Bramford to Twinstead, said the move showed it was possible to bury power cables if the will was there.

He said: “There are significant differences – the cable from Bawdsey to Bramford will be DC rather then AC and the amount of power it will carry will be less. The pylons will be able to carry about 25% of the nation’s electricity while the cable from Bawdsey will only carry about 10% of that.

“But there is no underlying reason why the lines from Bramford to Twinstead should not go underground as well – only the issue of cost.”

Most of the distance from Bawdsey to Bramford will be covered by cables which are buried in a trench dug through the countryside.

However in places – such as under the River Deben, Martlesham Creek, major roads, and the two rail lines – the cables will be put into tunnels that will be bored under the ground.

Cabinet member with responsibity for planning, Guy McGregor said the proposed underground cable was likely to be welcomed by the council.

He said the cables were very different to those being proposed by the National Grid, but felt that the organisation could learn something from the fact that the underground route was likely to get widespread support.

County councillor Peter Bellfield represents villages to the north of Ipswich which will be affected by the construction work.

He said most seemed satisfied that the work would not cause long-term problems.

There had been some concern in Great Bealings that the cable could split the village from Little Bealings while the work was under way – but the cables will be in a tunnel under that road so that would not close.

He said: “Overall I think people accept that the power needs to reach Bramford and that once the cable is laid it will be hidden and that is a much better solution than having pylons going across the landscape.”

A National Grid spokesman said: “Many people asked us to underground the whole connection; this option was assessed and discounted as it would be around £500 million pounds more expensive than an overhead line. Whilst it would clearly offer benefits in terms of minimising impacts on landscape and views we also have to bear in mind the potential for significant effect on ecology or archaeology.”

The EADT’s Stop The Pylons campaign was established to support local residents and groups fighting for the cables to be placed underground.


1 comment

  • It's difficult to understand if these proposals are reasonable without more information. While it's interesting that the proposed new route is to carry DC electricity there are no details about the proposed voltage and current carried by the route. One of the advantages of overhead pylons is that very high voltages at (relatively) low currents can be used with good insulation, due to the physical seperation of the conductors and free air cooling. Underground cables would need cooling to remove the heat from the current dissipated across the resistance of the cable. To be useful, at some point the windfarm power would need to be converted to AC. Would it not be better to bring the power ashore at Sizewell, convert it there and feed it into the grid and use the money saved for undergrounding elsewhere?

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