Suffolk/Essex: Pylon threat is still devaluing property, campaigners claim

Pylon protesters, pictured in Kersey, Griff Rhys Jones and wife Jo with campaign members Frances Sel

Pylon protesters, pictured in Kersey, Griff Rhys Jones and wife Jo with campaign members Frances Self, left, and Peter Eaton, right - Credit: Archant

Campaigners say the continuing spectre of a pylon network blighting the Suffolk and Essex countryside is still devaluing property – almost a year after the project was put on hold.

The Essex and Suffolk Amenity Alliance had celebrated National Grid’s decision to sideline its 400,000 volt electricity connection between Bramford and Twinstead, Essex, last November.

The decision had followed a hard-fought battle from campaigners who called for the route to be channelled underground to spare the surrounding countryside.

Nearly a year later, however, the group is calling for the project to be completely disbanded, claiming the status quo is placing an “unreasonable burden” on homeowners whose property has been devalued by up to 30%.

Peter Eaton, of Bury Not Blight – one of several groups that joined under the alliance – said it was “incredibly unfair”.

“By suspending, rather than halting the project, even though that could be for 15 years, National Grid is putting an unreasonable burden on the residents,” he said.

“They are doing it because they don’t want to start the consultation from scratch, but we are saying that it should be halted, even if they come back to it later.”

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David Holland, chairman of the Stour Valley Underground group, said he shared Mr Eaton’s concerns and pledged to keep up the campaign throughout the downtime.

“National Grid will think that the energy of the campaigners will have been dissipated by time – but we’ve got a surprise for them if they truly believe that,” he added. “We ended up with an extremely capable group and the community of Suffolk and Essex has been served very well by my colleagues.”

Mr Holland stressed that the group was not trying to block the electricity connection being created.

However, he is adamant the best solution is for an underground connection, to preserve the countryside, which is a “cultural heritage asset of enormous value”.

National Grid put the project on standby after an assessment showed any connection, initially earmarked for 2017, would not be needed until the early 2020s – which is thought to mainly be down to the delay in the creation of Sizewell C.

A spokesman for the company said the position was the same as last November.

“The Bramford-Twinstead connection will be needed in the future to connect new sources of low carbon power to the system but it’s still not expected to be required until the early 2020s,” the spokesman said.

“We are continuing to liaise with the power generators so that we can ensure it will be in place when it’s needed. We sympathise with everyone and will let people know if there are any new developments. We have been keeping in touch with local residents.”