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Call to fight rural pylons

The fight starts now to stop extra electricity pylons being built through north Suffolk and south Norfolk.

Guy McGregor, the Suffolk County councillor for planning, is leading the crusade against the National Grid’s plans for a double line of 50-metre pylons from Twinstead in Essex to Bramford, near Ipswich.

It is his and the county council’s belief that if the plans get the go-ahead, the effects could also include the Bramford to Norwich line of pylons being added to, and new pylons from Lowestoft to Diss.

Mr McGregor said: “Once the Grid’s current batch is built by 2016, they can then turn round and say that ‘we’ve invested half a billion pounds here, we now have to carry the project on elsewhere’.

“That is why we must act now, and so this Bramford to Twinstead connection needs to be opposed.”

Although the county council supports renewable energy plans and understands that existing power lines do not have the capacity to take all of the extra electricity being generated, it is the National’s Grid solution of building extra pylons that it disputes.

“The debate should not be about which route the pylons should take, but about whether pylons are necessary in the first place,” Mr McGregor said.

“Instead, we need a more co-ordinated approach to planning for our future needs and this must include how we will get the electricity to the customer.

“This, together with the use of new technology allowing cables to go underground and under the sea, could greatly reduce the need for new pylons.”

But Ann Steward, Norfolk County councillor for economic development, said: “The expansion of renewable energy represents a key economic opportunity for Norfolk and Suffolk and I want to work constructively with all stakeholders to ensure this opportunity is realised.”

And a spokeswoman for the National Grid confirmed that there are no plans at present to extend a new line of pylons between Bramford and Norwich.

However, she said that East Anglia Offshore Wind has applied to connect their wind farm to the national transmission system in Lowestoft: but how that might link to the Norwich line is still to be discussed.

In spite of these assurances, Suffolk County Council has organised a meeting tonight at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre in Bungay from 5.30pm.