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Thousands object to ‘biggest and ugliest plans’ to place pylons along Lincolnshire coast

Residents in Lincolnshire are digging their heels in opposition to National Grid proposals for 420 electricity pylons across the coastal landscape, gathering thousands of voices to object to the “biggest and ugliest” plans.

Dubbed The Great Grid Upgrade, National Grid has put its vision forward for an 87-mile network, powered by a new 400,000-volt electricity transmission lines and multiple 400 kV substations in Lincolnshire.

The estimated cost of this project, which runs right through the Lincolnshire landscape from Grimsby to Walpole, is £1.07 billion according to National Grid, and will be paid by customers through their bills over the next 40 years.

South & East Lincs leaders Coun Craig Leyland, Coun Anne Dorrian and Coun Nick Worth
South & East Lincs leaders Coun Craig Leyland, Coun Anne Dorrian and Coun Nick Worth

Each pylon will be 50 metres high, which is the same height as around 15 and a half Margaret Thatcher statues in Grantham on top of each other — or 19m higher than the spire at the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln.

National Grid say the pylon network is “needed urgently to connect new green energy to the grid” and vowed to give “careful consideration” to the concerns of local communities.

However, the plan has been met with fierce objection across the board, whether it be local residents, the county council, or Westminster politicians.

Police Crime Commissioner Marc Jones
Police Crime Commissioner Marc Jones

59-year-old Simon Adderley, from Sutton-on-Sea, is one of the organisers of the No Pylons Lincolnshire group, which has amassed over 3,500 members on Facebook and helped to gather more than 6,000 signatures of objection on a petition calling for the pylon plan to be reversed.

He said given how “sparsely populated” Lincolnshire is as a county, the group have had to go that little step further to ensure local voices are heard.

“Maybe they see Lincolnshire as an easy target,” he says of National Grid.

“This is why we’re making such an effort, to be heard we need a loud voice.”

The group is a vocal supporter of subsea alternatives rather than installing “the biggest and ugliest pylons possible” on agricultural land.

National Grid has claimed that subsea use would cost over four times more than using pylons, and that underground cabling would see the bill rise sixfold.

This, however, is a forecast the residents are struggling to believe.

Simon pointed towards other subsea contracts across the country, such as National Grid’s Viking Link, described as the world’s longest land and subsea interconnector.

He says the contract for those works were £1.7 billion, despite the range being 473km.

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This is compared to £4.39 billion estimates for The Great Grid Upgrade and its 140km range.

Simon added: “It’s fairly clear that either National Grid need someone else to negotiate contracts, or they aren’t telling the truth.

“Lincolnshire will pay the price and lose out forever, whether its damage to agricultural farmland, loss of tourism, or depreciation in house values.”

Another local resident, Jenny Pennington, 71, says her land will be roughly 1,500 metres away from one of the new substations that would be built for this proposal, and fears the implications it could have on the area.

“The land here is some of the very best in the country, it’s an absolute sacrilege.

“Lincolnshire and the country can’t afford to lose this land, we have almost half of all the grade one land, produce a third of all vegetables, and already know food production needs to be increased.

“It feels like the community vs the National Grid, and we’re very worried about the impact it will have on our local communities. If it was on your doorstep, what would you do?”

The residents aren’t the only locals to voice their discontent at the proposals, with local authorities and Members of Parliament in Lincolnshire also having their say.

Lincolnshire County Council is commissioning an independent report into the real-term impacts of the proposals, from the farmland it could put out of use, to the visual effect it could have on the sweeping, rural countryside.

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Council leader Martin Hill said the authority was taking “urgent action” to get all the possible information, and threatened legal action to “challenge the reasoning” of the plan if necessary.

Coun Colin Davie (Conservative), executive councillor for environment and economy said: “Once again, our beautiful county is being seen as a dumping ground for large scale energy infrastructure of no benefit to us, but that will have considerable negative impacts on our residents.”

Lincolnshire Police & Crime Commissioner Marc Jones (Conservative) penned a letter of response to the public consultation, saying he “cannot support a proposal that requires the people of Lincolnshire to face the risks and consequences on the overland route.”

The PCC fears signal degradation, communication interruptions and equipment malfunctions could even impact emergency service operations in Lincolnshire with these overhead lines.

He instead wants subsea alternatives to be considered, saying decision makers “owe it to future generations to make evidence-based decisions based on the best sustainable solutions.”

The South & East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership, comprising Boston Borough Council, East Lindsey and South Holland district councils, saw its leaders issue a joint statement opposing the National Grid plans, saying environmental protection must be considered.

“The major impact these plans could have on our communities and environment cannot be ignored,” Coun Anne Dorrian (Boston, Independent), Coun Craig Leyland (East Lindsey, Conservative) and Coun Nick Worth (South Holland, Conservative), said.

The public consultation for these proposals will end on Wednesday, March 13, and you can have your say by emailing contact@g-w.nationalgrid.com or calling 0800 0129 153.

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