Motorists should notice the difference when some 11,000 volt power lines disappear from view near the junction with West Lane, Wescott, in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Electricity distributor, UK Power Networks, is investing £96,825 to remove 600metres of overhead electricity lines, plus nine wooden support poles alongside the A25.
The power lines run downhill, across three arable fields and end by a public footpath, with a couple of spans of line running north from West Lane towards a farm. The rural area is popular with ramblers as a link between the North Downs Way National Trail and the Wotton Estate.
Shaun Barrell, UK Power Networks’ protected areas project officer, said: “The lines we are removing from this protected area of countryside are visible from a popular local footpath and the busy A25. We are pleased to be carrying out a project which will enhance the landscape.”
John Furey, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, said:
“Burying these cables underground will enhance a beautiful landscape steeped in history, for visitors today and for generations to come. We put a lot of hard work into protecting and enhancing Surrey’s countryside. I hope more utility companies will follow UK Power Networks’ lead in working with us to reduce the impact of power lines.”
The area is historically important and includes the parkland of Wotton House to the south, Wotton Church can be glimpsed from West Lane to the east and the pretty village of Abinger Hammer is to the west. The wooden poles which will be removed support some prominent electrical equipment alongside the A25, viewed against the picturesque backdrop of the North Downs.
UK Power Networks has an allowance from Ofgem to take down power lines in AONBs and national parks across the South East. The projects are chosen by a regional steering group of environmental experts, including the Surrey Hills AONB, and chaired by Natural England. UK Power Networks provides technical support and guidance and carries out the projects.
Since 2005 the electricity distributor has worked with environmental experts to enhance some of Britain’s most important landscapes. Other projects completed in the Surrey Hills are:
· Hascombe, where in September 2012, £315,000 was invested to remove 1.5miles of power lines from a landscape filmed by Steven Spielberg for War Horse and Nanny McPhee 2
· Coldharbour, where in a £261,843 scheme completed in July 2012, nearly a mile of power lines were taken down from parkland views once enjoyed by the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. A short film about this project is accessible here
· Westcott, Wotton and Abinger Hammer, where, in 2009, £934,260 was invested to remove nearly three miles of high voltage overhead power lines, 59 wooden support poles and 11 pole mounted transformers
· Loseley Park, near Guildford, where in 2009 a £250,000 investment secured the removal of nearly two miles of overhead power lines and 38 wooden support poles from the landscape
· Polesden Lacey, at Great Bookham, where in 2009 the National Trust site benefited from a £145,000 scheme to remove just under a kilometre of overhead electricity cables
· Holmwood Common at Dorking where in 2009 a £168,000 project saw the removal of more than a kilometre of overhead power lines and 14 wooden poles from the countryside
Between 2010 and 2015 UK Power Networks has a special allowance of £6.6million from the industry regulator, Ofgem, to invest in projects to replace overhead lines with underground cables in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks in the South East.