About the project

The Visual Impact Provision project in the New Forest National Park aims to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s overhead line near the village of Hale.

NFNPA2

About the project

The Visual Impact Provision project in the New Forest National Park aims to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s overhead line near the village of Hale.

Stakeholders have agreed that the best way to achieve this is to remove a section of this overhead line and replace it with electricity cables buried underground. It represents a major opportunity to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of this precious landscape.

The section of overhead line

The section of overhead line being considered for removal runs from Stricklands Plantation on the upper slopes of Avon Valley near Woodgreen, in the north-west corner of the National Park, across Hale Purlieu Common, the B3080 at Golden Cross, and finishes within Pound Bottom quarry east of the B3080.

The existing line was constructed in 1966 and runs between Mannington and Nursling. It provides an interconnection to Lovedean and Fawley substations which supply the local Distribution Network Owner (DNO) substations.

Why was this section selected?

This section of the line was identified by an independent landscape study as having some of the greatest impacts on landscape and visual amenity.

The line crosses an area of high tranquillity, well used by recreational walkers. This section falls entirely within the Northern Heath and Forest landscape character area of heathland and forest with very little man-made influence.

It is a high quality landscape and contains many features that are recognised as forming the special qualities of the New Forest National Park. These included the mosaic of lowland heath, mire, ancient pasture woodland and forest lawns that forms the Open Forest, the historic commoning system which results in the presence of New Forest ponies, donkeys, pigs and cattle. The scale of impact of the overhead line is very high – it is prominent on the open ridge and alters the unspoilt and tranquil nature of the landscape.

Our work in the New Forest so far

Since 2015 we have held a series of technical workshops for stakeholders and a public ‘drop-in’ events in the National Park. The stakeholder workshops included representatives from the New Forest National Park Authority, the National Trust, Natural England, the Verderers and the Forestry Commission to establish the best way to reduce the visual impact of the overhead line.

Burying the cables underground was the preferred option with stakeholders and members of the public that attended the events. It was felt that screening or camouflaging pylons would not have sufficient impact.

We have continued to work with local technical stakeholders to identify and develop possible route corridor options for this work. We are working with key stakeholders and landowners to identify any environmental and land issues that will influence where an underground route can be built.