We embarked on this project back in 2009. At the outset, we explored 20 possible options for reinforcing the high-voltage electricity transmission network in the area. After detailed analysis, we concluded that a new connection between our Bridgwater and Seabank substations would be the most appropriate and cost-effective solution. For detailed information about why we need to build a new connection and the options considered and discounted, see here.
Once connection points were identified, we commissioned an independent environmental review of the area, otherwise known as the Hinkley Point C Connection Project Route Corridor Study (RCS), which identified two broad widths of land within which a connection could be routed.
Over the next five years (2009-2014), we undertook several stages of pre-application consultation and in total received more than 11,000 pieces of feedback, which helped shape our plans.
How feedback shaped our plans
Throughout the pre-application process, people gave us vital information which helped shape our plans and ensured we made balanced decisions. We had to balance feedback with our obligation to comply with Government policy and legislation, while also making sure we met technical and safety requirements. We made many changes as a result of pre-application public consultation, including:
- Choosing the route of an existing overhead line owned by Western Power Distribution (WPD) to minimise the impact on the local landscape
- Removing more than 67 km of existing overhead line to make way for the new connection
- Putting 9 km of WPD’s network underground between Nailsea and Portishead
- Putting 8.5 km of the new connection underground through the Mendips Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- Using T-pylons for 81% of the overhead connection
For more detailed information about the changes we made to our proposals as a result of consultation, see our Consultation Report, which was submitted with our Development Consent Order application in May 2014.
National Grid is required under the Planning Act 2008 to submit a Development Consent Order for nationally significant infrastructure projects (which includes overhead power lines 132,000 volts and above). Applications to the Planning Inspectorate must accord with National Policy Statements (NPSs), issued by the Government. Six NPSs have been produced for the energy sector, including for electricity networks and nuclear power, and they can be found here.
Following extensive consultation, we finalised our plans, and in May 2014, submitted a Development Consent Order application to the Planning Inspectorate. A six-month examination followed, and on 19 October 2015, the planning inspectors made a recommendation to the Secretary of State. Permission was granted on 19 January 2016, and all documents relating to this decision can be found on the Planning Inspectorate website.