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Chelmsford City Council ‘strongly objects’ to pylon plans in consultation response

Untitled Design (91)
The proposed new 184km line would consist mostly of overhead lines and pylons

Chelmsford City Council will continue to strongly object to plans for a 184km Norwich to Tilbury electricity transmission line that would bring a new pylon and overhead line route through the district. The proposed response to National Grid’s latest consultation on the project was presented at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet and agreed by council members. The response will now be submitted to National Grid before the consultation ends on 26 July.

Objection in principle to onshore pylons and overhead lines

The council is maintaining its objection in principle because it says National Grid has carried out an accelerated programme of consultation on the project to meet a completion target of 2030, without providing sufficient evidence that an onshore solution is needed by that date. This timescale has prevented other options, such as offshore technologies, from being considered as part of the plans. The council’s view is that the project should be part of an integrated offshore scheme that does not include overhead lines and pylons.

Concern over ‘harmful impacts’

There is further concern that the proposed alignment of the new line would cause ‘harmful landscape impacts’, particularly to heritage assets along the route. This concern is particularly acute where the route passes very close to the historic villages of Little Waltham and Great Waltham in the north of the district.

Significant archaeological site could be affected

It’s also thought an archaeological site at Ash Tree Corner in Little Waltham, designated as a Scheduled Monument, could extend much further than current records suggest and may be of national significance. Excavations in the 1970s found considerable evidence of Iron Age and later occupation, and subsequent surveys and excavations suggest the settlement may be much larger than originally thought. The pylon route put forward by National Grid would go through this extended area.

Chelmsford City Council’s Cabinet Member for a Greener Chelmsford, Councillor Rose Moore, says the council objects to the controversial proposals both in principle and detail.

“There is a real need for clean energy, but the fundamental problem we have with this plan is that there is only one option put forward: onshore pylons and power lines. We do not believe that there is sufficient evidence that these power lines are needed by 2030, and this target date is stopping other technologies, like offshore transmission, from being considered.

“We are also very concerned, along with many of our residents, about the potentially harmful impacts of the proposed line and how it might affect both residential areas and the district’s heritage. Our extensive response covers all these points, and this will now be sent to National Grid as the council’s official submission to this final and statutory consultation.”

Cllr Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener Chelmsford

National Grid’s proposals are part of The Great Grid Upgrade

The Norwich to Tilbury project is planned to connect new low carbon energy generation to the grid and to reinforce the region's transmission network. The proposals, which are part of The Great Grid Upgrade, cover existing substations in Norwich, Suffolk and Essex, as well as new offshore wind generation. The proposed new 184km line, would be made up mostly by overhead lines and pylons, with a small section of underground cables for Dedham Vale. The route through Chelmsford submitted in the consultation would pass between The Walthams, heading west through the outskirts of Roxwell, Writtle, Little Oxney Green and Edney Common, before leaving the district between Margaretting and Ingatestone.

Consultation extended until 26 July

This consultation is the third and final consultation before National Grid applies for a Development Consent Order, which will be submitted to and examined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State. The deadline has been extended until 11:59pm on Friday 26 July, to give people additional time to provide feedback after the general election. A series of webinars about the plans are taking place over the next week or two if you would like to find out more from National Grid before submitting a comment.

The section running through the Chelmsford area will be discussed at a webinar on Tuesday 16 July at 6pm. You can book a place on this online session via the National Grid website.

Find out how to have your say and respond to the proposals on the consultation page: https://www.nationalgrid.com/electricity-transmission/network-and-infrastructure/infrastructure-projects/norwich-to-tilbury/public-consultation-and-programme

The response was discussed at Cabinet on 9 July. You can watch it from 22:45.

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Corporate Communications

Corporate Communications is our central account for writing about Chelmsford