Monday 24 October 2016 12:34 pm

National Grid to spend £1.9bn to keep power lines out of sight in Lake District and wider Cumbria in Moorside power plant connection project

National Grid has announced plans to spend £1.9bn to keep power lines out of sight, some of which will pass through the Lake District, to connect a proposed nuclear power station to the electricity grid. 

More than half of the £2.8bn being spent on the 102-mile cabling scheme to link NuGen’s Moorside plant in Cumbria to the wider network will go towards making sections of the project less visible.

National Grid's "extensive measures" are aimed at reducing "the impact of the project on the landscape of Cumbria while balancing this with the need to keep energy bills affordable". 

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A £1.2bn tunnel will be constructed under Morecambe Bay to avoid the south part of the Lake District national park, while plans to take down existing low voltage pylons, owned by Electricity North West rather than National Grid, and to replace them with fewer, taller pylons will cost around £465m. A further £460m will go towards burying power lines underground in a 14.5 mile stretch in the western Lake District park. 

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Last year, National Grid said putting the cabling underground was unlikely because of the high costs involved. However, local campaigners including Friends of the Lake District have hit out at plans for new pylons and claimed overground features could harm the park's bid to gain Unesco World Heritage Status. 

A consultation on the proposal will be launched on Friday for 10 weeks until 6 January. 

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National Grid project manager Robert Powell said:

Balancing the impact of the project on the landscape against its cost has involved making some difficult choices as the cost of building a connection is ultimately passed on to energy bill payers. 

We believe the proposal we are going to consult on over the coming months strikes the best balance. 

National Grid is confident that along the approximately 164km (102 mile) route of the proposed connection, it can remove many of the existing pylons owned by Electricity North West which carry low voltage power lines around the west coast of Cumbria. It will replace them with fewer, taller pylons carrying lines of its own operating at a higher voltage. 

Kim Hagen, senior energy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "It's brilliant news that National Grid proposes to underground all of the planned cables through the national park. This would be a great victory for one of our most cherished landscapes. It would mean the character and beauty of the Lake District is protected for generations to come."