May 21 2013 Latest news:
By Paul Geater
Thursday, March 7, 2013
SCORES of MPs from across the country are expected to attend a summit meeting next week aimed at halting National Grid proposals for more pylons.
The meeting at the House of Commons has been sponsored by South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo with support from officers at the county council.
This county has been in the vanguard of attempts to persuade National Grid to bury its cables after it emerged that the privatised company was keen to build a new line of pylons through the heart of south Suffolk – from Bramford near Ipswich to Twinstead near Sudbury.
Environment Secretary Owen Patterson is expected to attend next week’s meeting, and all MPs with pylons either or already in their constituencies or proposed for their areas have been invited – a total of more than 80.
As well as MPs, there will be guests from county councils and environmental groups as the case for burying wires is made more forcibly than ever before.
Guy McGregor, Suffolk cabinet member for planning, will be among the audience at the meeting on March 14 – just hours before he attends the last full county council meeting before May’s elections.
He said: “This meeting is very important. It will bring together a great deal of new research which shows that it is perfectly possible to bury new electricity cables underground.
“What we have to do is to persuade the government that this is what the public wants – we hear from National Grid that the public would not be prepared to pay more to have their cables buried, but we shall be hearing new evidence on that.”
Mr McGregor felt there was a real chance of changing national attitudes about burying electricity cables.
The meeting will hear from representatives from the Department for Energy and Climate Change and from Ofgem who will be talking about the regulatory framework under which National Grid sets its prices.
It will also hear from Oxford Professor Dieter Helm and Rob Sheldon from public relations consultants Accent who will show that research suggests householders would be willing to pay a small premium to bury cables.
Mr McGregor said: “What we are looking at here is a meeting that could completely change the way the country looks at its electricity distribution – it’s as important as that.”
A spokeswoman for National Grid said the company was aware of the meeting next week but had not been asked to be present at it.
She added: “We have been in touch with Tim Yeo’s office to ask if there is any information National Grid can provide for the meeting.”
The EADT launched the Stop the Pylons campaign to highlight the issue.