Electricity pylons are pulled down in £116m world-first scheme to bury cables underground

Electricity pylons are pulled down in £116m world-first scheme to bury cables underground and return landscape that once inspired Thomas Hardy to its natural beauty

  • Scheme will see 22 metal pylons and overhead cables removed from rural Dorset’s Area of Natural Beauty 
  • Around 60 miles of underground cables have been buried 3ft below ground to replace the 120ft structures 
  • High-voltage circuit has recently passed its final tests and now pylons are being felled by the National Grid

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Electricity pylons are being pulled down in a £116million world-first scheme to bury cables underground and return British countryside to its natural beauty.  

The scheme will see 22 metal pylons and their overhead cables removed from rural Dorset’s Area of Natural Beauty.

Around 60 miles of underground cables have been buried 3ft below ground to replace the 120ft structures that had been a blot on the protected landscape that once inspired author Thomas Hardy.

The high-voltage circuit has recently passed its final tests and now the pylons are being felled by the National Grid.

Similar projects are planned in other areas of treasured countryside across Britain including the Peak District, North Wessex Downs and Snowdonia national parks.

The scheme will see 22 metal pylons and their overhead cables removed from rural Dorset's Area of Natural Beauty. Pictured: The pylon near Corton Farm after it was pulled down

The scheme will see 22 metal pylons and their overhead cables removed from rural Dorset’s Area of Natural Beauty. Pictured: The pylon near Corton Farm after it was pulled down

Around 60 miles of underground cables have been buried 3ft below ground to replace the 120ft structures that had been a blot on the protected landscape that once inspired author Thomas Hardy. Pictured: The pylon near Corton Farm after it was pulled down

Around 60 miles of underground cables have been buried 3ft below ground to replace the 120ft structures that had been a blot on the protected landscape that once inspired author Thomas Hardy. Pictured: The pylon near Corton Farm after it was pulled down

The high-voltage circuit has recently passed its final tests and now the pylons are being felled by the National Grid

The high-voltage circuit has recently passed its final tests and now the pylons are being felled by the National Grid

Pictured: A view of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from Hardy Monument where the pylons can be seen (circled)

Pictured: A view of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from Hardy Monument where the pylons can be seen (circled)

Survey work has begun in Snowdonia and construction of the underground tunnel for electricity cables is expected to begin in 2023.

This revolutionary move could prove to be a godsend for TV producers of period dramas who have to avoid featuring pylons in their programmes.

Paul Hamnett, senior project manager for National Grid, said: ‘It is the culmination of three years of complex engineering and construction work on site which would not have been possible without the dedication and expertise of the site team and the patience of the local community.

‘Our goal has always been to enhance this beautiful landscape.

‘Now we are seeing the fruits of our labours with the fields we used for civil engineering being reinstated and, ultimately, the successful removal of 8.8km of overhead cables and 22 pylons.’

Tom Munro, the Dorset AONB partnership manager, said: ‘It’s great to see the pylons finally coming down as this ground-breaking engineering project reaches completion.

This revolutionary move could prove to be a godsend for TV producers of period dramas who have to avoid featuring pylons in their programmes

This revolutionary move could prove to be a godsend for TV producers of period dramas who have to avoid featuring pylons in their programmes

Paul Hamnett, senior project manager for National Grid, said: 'It is the culmination of three years of complex engineering and construction work on site which would not have been possible without the dedication and expertise of the site team and the patience of the local community'

Paul Hamnett, senior project manager for National Grid, said: ‘It is the culmination of three years of complex engineering and construction work on site which would not have been possible without the dedication and expertise of the site team and the patience of the local community’

Pictured: A map showing the route of the underground cables

Pictured: A map showing the route of the underground cables

‘The many archaeological discoveries arising from the project have confirmed and enriched our understanding of the South Dorset Ridgeway as an ancient ceremonial landscape of national significance.

‘It has a huge number and variety of monuments from Neolithic stone circles to Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age hillforts.

‘We’re looking forward to seeing the landscape afresh, less cluttered by modern infrastructure.

‘The ancient monuments will once again be taking centre stage and reminding us of the long story, stretching back into prehistory, of human interaction with the land.’

When the work began back in the autumn of 2019, scans of the land were carried out to ensure that the land was returned to its natural state once the work was completed.

When the work began back in the autumn of 2019, scans of the land were carried out to ensure that the land was returned to its natural state once the work was completed

When the work began back in the autumn of 2019, scans of the land were carried out to ensure that the land was returned to its natural state once the work was completed

The pylons were installed between 1965 and 1969 and they connect with substations in Axminster and Exeter

The pylons were installed between 1965 and 1969 and they connect with substations in Axminster and Exeter

Robert Lasseter, a farmer who lives next to one of the pylons that has been removed, said: 'The view that I have is much better now, it's a relief for the construction work to be over'

Robert Lasseter, a farmer who lives next to one of the pylons that has been removed, said: ‘The view that I have is much better now, it’s a relief for the construction work to be over’

This section was identified for the work as the landscape is made up of small valleys that are more susceptible to the visual impact of the pylons and power lines

This section was identified for the work as the landscape is made up of small valleys that are more susceptible to the visual impact of the pylons and power lines

The pylons were installed between 1965 and 1969 and they connect with substations in Axminster and Exeter.

Robert Lasseter, a farmer who lives next to one of the pylons that has been removed, said: ‘The view that I have is much better now, it’s a relief for the construction work to be over.

‘I was very keen that they took these pylons down when the plans were first mentioned.

‘It has definitely been a great improvement for the landscape.’

This section was identified for the work as the landscape is made up of small valleys that are more susceptible to the visual impact of the pylons and power lines.

Wessex Heights by Thomas Hardy, December 1896 

There are some heights in Wessex, shaped as if by a kindly hand

For thinking, dreaming, dying on, and at crises when I stand, 

Say, on Ingpen Beacon eastward, or on Wylls-Neck westwardly, 

I seem where I was before my birth, and after death may be. 

 

In the lowlands I have no comrade, not even the lone man’s friend – 

Her who suffereth long and is kind; accepts what he is too weak to mend: 

Down there they are dubious and askance; there nobody thinks as I, 

But mind-chains do not clank where one’s next neighbour is the sky. 

 

In the towns I am tracked by phantoms having weird detective ways – 

Shadows of beings who fellowed with myself of earlier days: 

They hang about at places, and they say harsh heavy things – 

Men with a wintry sneer, and women with tart disparagings.

 

Down there I seem to be false to myself, my simple self that was, 

And is not now, and I see him watching, wondering what crass cause 

Can have merged him into such a strange continuator as this, 

Who yet has something in common with himself, my chrysalis.

 

I cannot go to the great grey Plain; there’s a figure against the moon, 

Nobody sees it but I, and it makes my breast beat out of tune; 

I cannot go to the tall-spired town, being barred by the forms now passed 

For everybody but me, in whose long vision they stand there fast. 

 

There’s a ghost at Yell’ham Bottom chiding loud at the fall of the night, 

There’s a ghost in Froom-side Vale, thin lipped and vague, in a shroud of white, 

There is one in the railway-train whenever I do not want it near, 

I see its profile against the pane, saying what I would not hear. 

 

As for one rare fair woman, I am now but a thought of hers, 

I enter her mind and another thought succeeds me that she prefers; 

Yet my love for her in its fulness she herself even did not know; 

Well, time cures hearts of tenderness, and now I can let her go. 

 

So I am found on Ingpen Beacon, or on Wylls-Neck to the west, 

Or else on homely Bulbarrow, or little Pilsdon Crest,

Where men have never cared to haunt, nor women have walked with me, 

And ghosts then keep their distance; and I know some liberty. 

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