Building new pylons from Sandford to Avonmouth
Work started in May 2021
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In mid-May 2021, we started the construction work needed to build the new overhead connection, featuring T-pylons, from Sandford to Avonmouth.
Project Director James Goode introduces this next stage of works in a short message plus you'll find more details of what the works entail, including how we are going to build the world's first T-pylons and remove 40 km of existing pylons in 2023.
Traffic management between Bridgwater and Avonmouth
See how we're building the world's first operational T-pylons
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Frequently asked questions
What are you doing between Sandford and Seabank?
From mid-May 2021, we’ll start construction work needed to build the new overhead connection, featuring T-pylons, from Sandford substation to Seabank substation, near Avonmouth. We’re also making changes to Western Power Distribution (WPD) electricity network and removing two lines of existing pylons from across the route.
Who is doing the work?
Our main contractor for this work is Balfour Beatty.
What will I see?
Our construction activities include:
- building temporary road accesses, crossing points and construction roads – to limit local disruption, we’re using much of the existing infrastructure implemented by the underground cabling work between Nailsea and Portishead
- creating working areas to keep equipment and for staff parking
- piling and concrete pylon foundations
- scaffolding across roads
- erecting pylons
- hanging the wires between the pylons
- removing two lines of existing WPD pylons
- removing road accesses, crossing points and construction roads
- replanting hedgerows and reinstating the area.
Much of the work to build the new pylons and remove the WPD pylons will be located away in fields away from properties. Where the route crosses roads, rivers, and railway lines, we’ll need to erect scaffolding and netting.
To keep everyone safe while we’re working on the highways, we need to put up temporary traffic lights
or ‘Stop and Go’ boards, restrict parking and close some roads for a short time.
You may see large construction vehicles on roads whilst they are moving from one site to another. Some nearby residents and passers-by will see our contractors using excavators and specialist equipment used for building and removing pylons.
What are your working hours?
Our normal working hours are between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 5pm on weekends.
Most work will be carried out on weekdays, although there may be some occasions when we’ll need to work at weekends or overnight.
Will this work affect our local electricity supply?
No, electricity supplies will not be disrupted during our work.
What is a T-pylon?
T-pylons are a brand new design for overhead lines. They have a single pole and T-shaped cross arms which hold the wires in a diamond ‘earring’ shape.
They are around 35 metres high; about a third shorter than traditional high voltage (400kV) lattice pylons, have a smaller footprint and use less land. Find out more about T-pylons and how we build them.
Have they been used anywhere else?
We’ve built a short run of T-pylons at our training centre in Nottinghamshire and used these to test the structures and to train our contractors on how to construct them.
How many T-pylons will there be?
We’re building 116 T-pylons along the 57km Hinkley Connection route – covering around 80% of the route.
Will the construction be noisy?
As with all construction work, there will be some noise from site activities and vehicles. Some activities, such as piling involves driving concrete and steel piles into the ground to build the foundations for the pylons.
You may hear noise and feel vibrations when we are carrying out piling. This will depend on how close you are to the site and the ground conditions and wind direction.
We’re using the most silenced hydraulic hammer on the market and the piling rig has been designed to minimise noise and vibrations. To reduce disruption to residents we will limit piling to between the hours of 8am and 5pm, and not carry out any piling over the weekends.
We will contact people in nearby properties before piling work starts to discuss any impacts with them.
When will you start building new pylons between Sandford and Seabank substations?
We will start building concrete foundations from mid-2021, which involves driving steel piles into the ground. We expect to have all the pylons in place before the end of 2022, ready to hang the wires by August 2023.
When are you taking down the existing Western Power Distribution (WPD) pylons?
We’re removing 68km of existing pylons along the whole scheme to reduce the visual impact on the local landscape. This work includes removing 9km of pylons between Nailsea and Portishead and the line of pylons from the A368 in Sandford to Avonmouth. This work will start from August 2021 and we expect to be complete by late 2023.
Why do you need to build construction roads?
Using temporary construction roads will mean there’ll be fewer disruption on local roads and improve access for the construction vehicles.
For some of our work, we will use the existing temporary accesses and construction roads built for the underground cables between Nailsea and Portishead. Using these established accesses will help reduce the amount of traffic and disruption on local roads.
When we have finished our work, we will remove the construction roads and reinstate the land to its original condition.
How many HGV deliveries will there be for each access?
We expect an average peak of 40 HGV deliveries per day, per access during the temporary haul road construction. This will reduce significantly during construction and removal of the pylons.
How will your vehicles get to the locations where you’re building construction accesses?
We agreed a construction traffic management plan with the local authorities which sets out the roads our vehicles can use for construction work.
Our vehicles will follow the agreed route to get as near as possible to the sites. Though, in some areas, we need to use other local roads for short periods at the beginning and end of the project. This has been agreed with the local authorities.
Once the project’s temporary road infrastructure is in place, it’ll mean most of our construction traffic will be off local roads for the duration of our work.
Will you need to close roads and use traffic lights on local roads?
To keep everyone safe while we’re working on the highways, we need to put up temporary traffic lights, restrict parking and close some roads for a short time. Find out more about what roads will be affected.
Why are full road closures necessary?
Our priority is safety of the public and our staff. When working on the highways, we aim to keep the road open wherever possible by using traffic lights. As some of the roads we need to work on to create road accesses and crossings are narrow, we would not be able to carry out the work safely without closing the road.
Who gave permission for the roads to be closed/install traffic lights?
The use of traffic management, including temporary closures and diversion routes, and use of traffic lights are discussed and agreed with the local highway authorities: Somerset County Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire.
Will I still be able to access my house/driveway?
Yes – we will always maintain access to properties.
What about bus routes and school buses?
We’re in contact with Transport for Somerset to check if our work will affect bus route timings and if there are any school bus stops near the working area. We will contact local schools to let parents know about the road works.
How are you letting people know about this work?
We will write to local communities about our up-coming construction activities and traffic routes. We’re in touch with parish and town councils and we’re providing a series of digital project briefings, ahead of starting work in each area.
Our contractors put up advance notice signs to let local road users know of any traffic restrictions and closures. Our project website is kept updated all stages of the project.
What impact will the work have on plants and wildlife?
We take our environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and we are working closely with Natural England to minimise the effects of our work as much as possible.
Over the past few years, we’ve carried out ecology surveys to identify wildlife and protected species and already carried out a number or mitigation measures to reduce the impact of our work.
These include coppicing trees and hedgerows to protect bats and nesting birds, strimming riverbanks to encourage water voles to move away from working areas and installing bat flyways to maintain features along hedgerows to help with their nocturnal navigation.
Wherever possible we want to enhance the local environment and we are continually exploring opportunities to support wildlife.
What will you do if you find protected species while working?
We will immediately notify the environmental specialist on the project and all the necessary environmental departments. We will ensure our construction work does not affect any protected species.
Will you remove hedgerows and trees along the route?
We need to remove some trees and hedgerows to enable us to build the temporary construction areas and pylons. We will replant hedgerows after work has been finished and we will replant four trees for every one removed as part of this project.
Why are you continuing construction works during the Covid-19 outbreak?
The Hinkley Connection Project is a key part of the national infrastructure. These are works that need to take place today to ensure the future running of the network. Together with our contractors, we are continuing to progress with the critical elements of the project in line with current government guidance on construction activity.
How are you keeping workers and communities safe during this time?
Work on site has been significantly reduced and we have introduced stringent site operating procedures to protect not just our workforce, but also their families and the communities in which they’re operating. We have, for example, restricted travel between our sites and removed skin contact entry systems, such as fingerprint scanners. To meet social distancing requirements, we are installing additional handwashing facilities and welfare cabins.
How can I find out more?
If you have any further questions, you can contact our Community Relations Team by calling 0800 377 7347 or emailing [email protected].
Who should I contact if I have a complaint or if there is a problem?
The community relations helpline is a 24 hour service to ensure all concerns can be addressed asap.
If there is an emergency, please dial 999.