THE Tamar Valley has narrowly missed out on a £500-million scheme to reduce the negative impact electricity pylons have on the landscape.

The National Grid scheme will look at each national park or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and decide on the best method to hide the cables.

In November 2014, eight AONBs and national parks were shortlisted as having significant landscape and visual impact from electricity pylons, following a study overseen by leading landscape expert Professor Carys Swanwick.

Since then, National Grid and independent landscape consultants have done further technical work with considerable and highly detailed input from local stakeholders in each location.

This then enabled the stakeholders advisory group to prioritise four projects from the shortlist, which are: Dorset AONB near Winterbourne Abbas, New Forest National Park near Hale, Peak District National Park near Dunford Bridge and Snowdonia National Park near Porthmadog.

Using a £500-million allowance made available by Ofgem until 2021, National Grid plans to reduce the visual impact of sections of high voltage overhead lines in these locations. A range of different ways of doing this have been considered in each location.

These four projects will be taken forward over the next 12 months for detailed feasibility works which will include environmental studies, archaeological studies and engineering work on the ground.

There will also be further significant engagement with local stakeholders and communities.

Corinna Woodall, Tamar Valley AONB Manager said: ‘Obviously we are disappointed not to be included in this round but I can understand the decision given the number of destinations and importance of the AONB, and to make sure nothing is damaged they would need more time.

‘We are starting to look at opportunities with the local community and organisations for after 2021 but we will do some work in the meantime to make a strong case as we are one of the most impacted AONBs by electrical infrastructure.

‘The pylons are man made and intrude on the natural and open landscape but there are other opportunities to enhance the area and options to apply for a £24-milliion, Landscape Protection and Enhancement Support scheme which mitigates the impact of pylons.’

She added: ‘It was a very, very difficult decision about complex schemes for the Tamar which were very expensive, the preferred method was tunnelling to remove visibility. We are making sure things are properly addressed.

‘People will be disappointed, hopes were raised. It hadn’t occurred to people that they could be doing something, so when they realised people were like “Yes, let’s get rid of them!’’

‘We feel that our duty is to protect the landscape, I am disappointed for people that live there and visit. Just because we are used to seeing electricity pylons everywhere doesn’t mean we should accept them.

‘I want to say thanks to the community and the local stakeholders group who are experts that meet periodically. I hope there will be a benefit from this process.’

Chris Baines, chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, said: ‘Reducing the visual impact of pylons and power lines in our most precious landscapes is highly desirable, but it is also very expensive and technically complex so we have had to make some difficult decisions.

‘Although four schemes have been prioritised, none of the locations on our original shortlist have been dropped and they will remain under consideration for future work to reduce the impact of National Grid’s transmission lines under the Visual Impact Provision project.’

Set to be launched in the winter, this landscape enhancement initiative will to provide up to £24-million over six years.

The aim will be to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s existing infrastructure in AONBs and national parks and improve the related visual quality of the landscape. A range of local visual improvement projects could enhance biodiversity, benefit cultural heritage or raise awareness of natural and historic features of a landscape.