Cost of underground cables to be explored

THE exact cost of installing underground cables instead of building gigantic power pylons across the picturesque Suffolk countryside is being explored for the first time.

Lizzie Parry

THE exact cost of installing underground cables instead of building gigantic power pylons across the picturesque Suffolk countryside is being explored for the first time.

Proposals drawn up by National Grid will link an extra set of cables, along up to 90 pylons, between the company's substation in Bramford and a power junction in Twinstead, near Sudbury.

Until now energy bosses have said installing underground cables would cost in the region of 12 to 17 times more than installing pylons but now they are working to gather more accurate figures, after pressure groups including Stour Valley Underground (SVU) asked them to consider other options.

After the meeting between SVU and National Grid on Monday, David Holland of SUV said he welcomed the moves by the company but said it was “woefully late,” as public consultation ends at the end of this month.

Suffolk County Council will meet todayto vote on the proposals and the SVU are encouraging the council to reject all the current routes laid out, until all options have been considered.

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He said: “It was clear from remarks made by them (National Grid) that they are now seriously going through and costing, getting quotes, from underground cabling companies, doing what we suggested.

“Suffolk County Council are meeting to decide their response and we are urging them to reject the need to show a preference for any corridor until all reasonable options have been fully explored.

“We want the consultation to look at all options properly then allow a decision to be taken on what is right form everybody.”

Mr Holland said although SVU are pleased at the move by National Grid he is concerned it is too little too late.

He urged the power company to consider a longer-term option, burying the cables underground or running cables directly under the sea, in a bid to preserve the Suffolk landscape for future generations.

He said: “The long term solution of power distribution under the sea is the greener option, more in keeping with future technology. The Government are already talking about a European wide energy network, which will become more important as we move more towards renewable energy sources, like wind farms.

“For that European goal to be achieved under sea cables would be needed, so why not start the process now? If they do that East Anglia will slowly move towards a pylon free landscape because they will become redundant. We have a responsibility to decide what we leave for future generations.”

A spokeswoman for National Grid said last night the company is looking into a “more total cost” of underground cabling. She said underground cabling is only considered in “exceptional circumstances” and would only be looked into seriously once the first stage of the process, establishing the route the power will take, has been decided.

Once the route is agreed the company could then look at sections suitable for underground cabling and consider it an option.

Responding to Mr Holland's suggestion of the longer-term solution of under sea or underground cabling, the spokeswoman said: “We have to consider the cost of maintaining and developing networks falls on all of us, as electricity bill payers. We have a responsibility as a company to bear in mind any investment we make fall on the bill payer.”

Last year the EADT launched the Stop the Pylons campaign to urge National Grid to find an alternative way of transporting power. Visit the campaign page at