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Offshore wind will lead to ‘advancing army of pylons’

An “army of pylons will march across the countryside” unless Britain invests billions of pounds in a new “supergrid” to transport the electricity under the sea, MPs have warned.

Up to 280 wind farms are expected to be built in the North Sea over the next 20 years, to replace closing coal-fired power stations and keep the lights on while cutting carbon.

But a report from the Commons Energy Committee warned that the “massive gamble” will not pay off unless there is some way to transport the energy.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee, said the Government will have to invest tens of billions of pounds in building an electricity network under the sea to connect to the rest of the Europe.

This will ensure that when the wind is blowing in one country the surplus can be sold, as it cannot be stored.

It will also reduce the need for pylons as electricity can be transported around the coast rather than across land.

Mr Yeo warned that coastal areas will be devastated by massive landing points for each wind farm, unless there is a supergrid that encourages firms to link to other networks.

He admitted that Britain will need more pylons to connect to offshore wind, but there will be a lot less if the supergrid is in place.

Mr Yeo also called on the National Grid to consider putting more pylons underground onshore to avoid scarring the landscape.

“Offshore networks can deliver electricity where it’s needed without adding to the advancing army of pylons that’s marching its way across our countryside.

“If we connect our offshore wind farms one by one then we’ll see scores of landing points, each twice the size of a football pitch. The Government needs to help industry to co-operate and share their networks,” he said.

“The UK’s offshore renewables are too valuable to be left to the Government’s hands-off approach on transmission.”