Page last updated at 07:06 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Fears over hike in pylon numbers

Electricity pylons (library picture)
Pylons transfer power from wind farms to the National Grid

Campaigners are warning of a big jump in the number of electricity pylons covering mid Wales to cope with energy generated from planned new windfarms.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) claims 400, 262ft (80m) pylons could be erected to carry 400,000 volts to the National Grid.

They are needed to meet energy demands.

But the National Grid said plans were at an early stage and there was no idea yet over numbers or where and when the metal structures would be built.

According to Powys Council, there are currently nine planning applications for windfarms in the county.

But the current network for transferring power to the National Grid is limited in mid Wales, and with a new generation of turbines producing more electricity the infrastructure for delivering the energy requires upgrading.

Plans are for a 400,000 volt cable capable of carrying all of the power.

CPRW president Glyn Davies said the campaign group had always been opposed to "wind power stations" in the uplands of rural Wales.

A wind turbine (library picture)
Mid Wales is home to hundreds of wind turbines

He added: "This opposition has been based not only on the cumulative visual impact these windfarms have on the landscape, but all the additional impacts that servicing them causes.

"As we always believed, the reality of our worries is now ringing true.

"It is clear that, in addition to the blight caused by the windfarms themselves, there is now a need for hundreds of 80m high pylons to carry the electricity from these upland sites through our valleys, to connect these windfarms to the National Grid."

A spokeswoman for the National Grid said plans for a 400,000 volt line were in the early stages, but talks had taken place with the Welsh Assembly Government.

She added there was no idea yet of the numbers of pylons or when or where they would be built.

An assembly government spokesman said seven areas across Wales designated for windfarm development, known as TAN 8, meant the electricity grid would need reinforcing to meet "renewable energy aspirations".

'Connect customers'

He added: "We have been working with the National Grid, Ofgem and energy companies to determine the best way to proceed.

"In both mid and north Wales developers have been encouraged to discuss their plans collectively with grid operators so that rather than proceeding piecemeal as the current Ofgem mechanisms may encourage, the grid companies can determine the best options for new connections."

However, with no agreement in sight for a 400,000 volt line, energy firm Scottish Power is planning its own new 132,000 volt overhead cable.

It is in consultation with communities near Newtown about plans for 350, 49ft (15m) tall pylons from a proposed windfarm in Llandinam to a sub-station in Welshpool, 22 miles (35km) away.

Plans were unveiled earlier this year to replace existing turbines at Llandinam with larger, more powerful versions.

The preferred route for the pylons is through the village of Kerry, where people have formed an action group.

Two public meetings next week will discuss the issue.

Scottish Power said: "As the licensed operator for the electricity network up to 132kV, under the licence conditions, Scottish Power/Manweb has an obligation to connect customers to the network - and this includes windfarm developments."

But the firm said it would support a "centralised enhancement to the grid" because the overall capacity on the mid Wales network was "very limited".

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