National need for electricity line provision over canal

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy agreed with the inspector appointed to conduct an examination into a proposal by a statutory undertaker to erect a 23 kilometre 132kV overhead line in Shropshire that it was in the national interest to grant consent under the Planning Act 2008.

The line would stretch between substations in Oswestry and Wem, a part of which was crossed by the Montgomery Canal. The Canal and River Trust, supported by the Inland Waterways Association, claimed that the line should be placed underground in the vicinity of the canal in order to avoid adverse landscape and visual effects. It was further claimed that the applicant had failed to provide clear and detailed comparison with the benefits of laying the line underground.

In assessing this particular point, the inspector concluded that the landscape and visual impacts did not justify departing from what the applicant proposed. The scheme had been devised with due regard to the requirements of the Electricity Act 1989, to preserve the natural beauty of the countryside along with flora and fauna. While some local disruption would occur during the construction phase, a management plan would ensure that trees and hedgerows would be protected where appropriate. The applicant had taken considerable care to route the line to avoid the most sensitive and valued groups of trees including small copses. Nor would it impact on any important ecological sites.

The secretary of state agreed that the scheme was in line with the national need for secure and reliable supplies of electricity as part of the transition to a low carbon economy, and this did not conflict with the government’s commitment to achieve net carbon emissions by 2050. It would also support the county council’s economic growth strategy since additional employment development was planned at Oswestry. Thus, there was a pressing need to substantially increase the capacity for electricity supply in the north Shropshire area if social and economic growth was to be sustained. Consent for the development was therefore given.

Inspector: Paul Hudson; Hearing

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