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What price the future of energy?

With limited options and ever mindful of acute economic pressure, Carlisle councillors have engaged in a bit of fence-sitting.

They have backed plans for 152ft-high pylons and high voltage power lines running across some of Cumbria’s most spectacular scenery… but reserve the right to change their minds.

Perhaps not the bravest or most decisive of moves but, given the circumstances, not entirely surprising.

It has been understood and accepted that proposals for power lines between Sellafield and Carlisle would be a blot on our landscapes.

Areas of outstanding natural beauty and the Hadrian’s Wall world heritage site will be the poorer for visually intrusive, giant pylons positioned 400 yards apart, on a march through what is the county’s greatest asset – its sensational countryside. But what’s a council to do, when faced with chances for attracting new business, more jobs and a considerable boost to a struggling city’s economy?

Significant changes to treasured unspoilt rural landscapes are inevitable if energy is to be transmitted efficiently from a new nuclear power station at Moorside.

In communities still fiercely fighting a proliferation of wind turbines, that’s unlikely to be accepted cheerfully.

In the end, will Cumbria settle for selling its precious heritage of outstanding natural beauty for promised future prosperity?