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Thursday, March 18, 2010

National Grid examines consultation responses

National Grid is carrying out the major task of examining hundreds of letters, emails and feedback forms in response to proposals for a new overhead line in south Suffolk and Essex.

Since October residents, local authorities and statutory and non-statutory organisations have been sending National Grid their comments about the company's proposals to build a new 400,000 volt overhead line between Bramford, near Ipswich, and Twinstead, south of Sudbury. The line is needed to connect a number of major new generators, including low carbon power sources, to the electricity transmission system in East Anglia.

More than 1200 letters, 900 feedback forms, 300 e-mails, and around 50 telephone calls have been received from residents giving their views about four potential 'route corridors' - stretches of land in which the overhead line could be sited. Almost 1,000 forms were also received as a result of a campaign run by the East Anglian Daily Times.

National Grid is in the process of examining all the feedback, which will help to inform the decision as to which corridor is chosen. The decision is expected to be announced in late spring.

As part of the consultation more than 12,000 households were sent information about the project, around 2100 people attended the 20 public exhibitions held along the route corridors, presentations were given to two county councils, five district councils, 61 parish councils and over 50 ward councillors. Documentation was also provided to libraries and council offices in the area.

National Grid senior project manager Jim Street said: “We would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to give us their feedback. During the past months some firm views have been expressed and challenging questions posed, but at the same time people have been very courteous and listened to what we have had to say.

“No decision has been made about which route corridor option will be taken forward as we will need to take into account this feedback as it will help to inform that decision. We will announce our preferred route corridor once we have examined all the comments. We will also be producing a publicly available report outlining the issues raised during the consultation and how National Grid intends to respond.”

Following feedback from local authorities and other statutory and non-statutory groups, National Grid is already planning to provide further detailed, technical information.

Mr Street added: “We are collating more detailed technical information to explain the alternative technologies and why National Grid has not been able to take them forward as potential options.

We are currently considering the best way to communicate this additional data – much of which is likely to be highly technical – and we will be letting people know how we intend to do this in due course.”

Following the announcement of the route corridor there will be a detailed environmental impact assessment, discussions with landowners and further public consultation before the precise route of the line is decided. Consultation on this phase of the project will continue until National Grid makes its application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission for a Development Consent Order in summer 2011.

National Grid has been asked to connect a number of new generators to the electricity transmission system in East Anglia. With the existing network running at capacity, National Grid needs to build a new 400,000 volt overhead line connecting Bramford and Twinstead.

Depending upon the final route, the overhead line would be approximately between 26.5kms and 30kms long and if consent is granted would be constructed between 2012 and 2016 at a cost of more than £2 million per mile.

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