Power lines 'could go underground'

POWER lines which prevent unhindered enjoyment of one of Suffolk's prettiest villages could one day be uprooted and buried beneath the ground.

POWER lines which prevent unhindered enjoyment of one of Suffolk's prettiest villages could one day be uprooted and buried beneath the ground.

The idea of putting overhead wires underground in Lavenham has been made part of Babergh District Council's planning guidance for developers.

It means that the placement of power cables and other wires could be considered by the council when deciding planning applications in the future. In a report to the council's strategy committee it was claimed the village suffered from “extensive areas of visually intrusive overhead wiring” which “should be put underground when resources permit”.

The idea has delighted villagers.

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Lyn Gurling, chairman of the Lavenham Society, said: “We would clap our hands and kiss the ground if they went underground.

“There were some power lines put underneath the ground a few years ago and when we did our village design statement in 2002 it was one of things we said we wanted.

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“Overhead wires do rather spoil the views - though the costs could be prohibitive. I don't think it will happen at the moment.”

Philip Gibson, council member for the area, said in some village streets the number of overhead wires had become “really quite objectionable”.

He said they were doubly unsightly in Lavenham because they intermingled with medieval buildings.

However, he said he doubted the village would see anything happening in the immediate future because of the costs of such a scheme.

“Like so many things at the moment, there's no money,” he said.

A spokeswoman for EDF Energy said it currently had a programme in place to remove overhead power lines from areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks in the east of England.

“EDF Energy Networks is constantly working to improve the performance of our network and to meet future needs for power and we have invested �400million in our electricity networks this year,” she said. “However the amount we can invest is set by our regulator and to replace any section of line which is not within an AONB or national park, we have to consider the safety and reliability of the line. If that section of line is safe and reliable it is difficult to justify the replacement of it.

“Although undergrounding our cables can improve views across an area, and reduce power cuts during storms and other environmental disturbances, it may not be the

whole solution.

“For example, undergrounding cables does make them less accessible and if a fault occurs we have to dig up roads and footpaths to locate and repair it.

“If the council would like to contact us to outline their idea regarding Lavenham, we would be happy to look into their request.”

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