Today a spectacular corner of Snowdonia National Park moves one step closer to freedom from the blight of giant pylons
National Grid have announced the final shortlist of 4 sites for their £500m Visual Impact Provision project, which will see sections of high-voltage lines undergrounded in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales. On that shortlist is the Portmeirion to Trawsfynydd section – roughly 7km of highly intrusive pylons which dominate and degrade the landscape.
The pylons in question march across the Dwyryd estuary, climb up a stunning valley past Moel Tecwyn to Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf before crossing Ceunant Llennyrch with its ancient woodland. The pylons have marched for over 50 years across outstanding landscapes, breathtaking views, and nationally important wildlife habitats. Now this place is poised ready to be unshackled and transformed.
The Snowdonia Society is delighted that this special landscape will now go on to the final stage of detailed technical evaluation. If the project goes ahead it will have a transformational impact. But we are also realistic about what lies ahead.
Putting high-voltage cables underground in this varied terrain is a phenomenal technical challenge. We expect that even if it is possible, the work will be difficult and extremely expensive – potentially £20m per kilometre. The route crosses through sensitive habitats for wildlife including Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation. Solutions will be needed which balance the benefits to landscape against the risk to precious ecology.
On a wider scale, we hope that lessons will be learned. Welcome as it is, this undergrounding project will, we hope, solve one problem in one corner of Snowdonia. The extremely challenging nature of the work should throw a spotlight on the absurdity of recent decisions to install new swathes of pylons 160 feet tall – miles and miles of them – across Anglesey and through the Lake District National Park. Surely it makes sense to do this kind of job once and do it right first time.