Dorset VIP project gains planning consent

Plans to remove 22 pylons and replace an 8.8km section of overhead electricity transmission line with underground cables near Winterbourne Abbas, Martinstown and Friar Waddon in the Dorset AONB have been approved by the local planning authority, subject to conditions and the completion of a unilateral undertaking.

Plans for the VIP project in Dorset have been approved by West Dorset District Council

Dorset is the first of National Grid’s four VIP projects to reach this milestone, with proposals for projects in the New Forest, Peak District and Snowdonia National Parks expected to be submitted for planning consideration later this year.

Securing planning consent is the next stage in fulfilling the Dorset VIP project and enhancing the striking landscape for the many local people and visitors who regularly enjoy it.

The decision was agreed by the WDDC’s planning committee on 21 June, following a recommendation of approval made by the authority’s planning officers earlier in the month.

The plans were submitted by National Grid in January following extensive consultations with local stakeholders, including the Dorset AONB Partnership, Dorset County Council, Natural England, Historic England, representatives from the surrounding parish councils and members of the local community at public events.

National Grid VIP lead project manager, Jeremy Lee said: “Securing planning consent is an important step towards realising our plans to conserve and enhance this important AONB landscape. We will now seek to obtain other necessary permissions ahead of works taking place and we have a large amount of archaeological investigation work to do in the remainder of the year, working closely with the Dorset county archaeologist and Historic England. Once this is complete, we hope to begin on site in earnest in the early part of next year.

“I would like to thank our dedicated group of local stakeholders who have worked hard to progress the project. This latest milestone is a credit to their commitment to improving the landscape for generations to come.”

Tom Munro, Dorset AONB Partnership manager said: “This part of the South Dorset Ridgeway is one of the most important historic landscapes, with thousands of monuments from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. This project will help conserve the setting of these monuments as well as removing a significant landscape impact. It represents a significant commitment from National Grid to the landscape in Dorset. We are delighted that it has been approved and look forward to helping the delivery team secure a long-lasting benefit to this nationally-important Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”