Low Voltage Undergrounding
The Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, together with the other national landscapes (National Landscapes and National Parks) in Eastern England, work with UK Power Networks and Natural England to remove unsightly overhead electricity lines.
In 2005 Ofgem, the electricity regulator, began granting electricity network operators a special allowance to replace overhead cables with underground cables to enhance the appearance of these outstanding landscapes.
Proposals to underground overhead lines can originate from parish councils, community groups or private individuals, however all proposals must be assessed by the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape team. Priority is given where electricity lines impact on landscape character, landscape features, visual amenity and where undergrounding could benefit the setting of historic features and biodiversity.
The technical feasibility of a priority undergrounding proposal is assessed by UK Power Networks and, if viable, the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape presents the scheme to a regional steering group chaired by Natural England to decide if it can proceed to the next stage.
If approved the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscapet hen works with all affected landowners to get in-principle support, as well as gathering views from wider stakeholders such as the local authority, Historic England, Natural England and the Environment Agency.
Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, working with UK Power Networks has so far completed 7 undergrounding projects – removing over 14 miles of wires and nearly 300 poles. There are a further 4 projects currently being developed, which would see a further 12 miles of overhead wires gone.
We’re always keen to hear about any other overhead power lines which you feel could be considered for any future funding that becomes available.
The fund applies to the overhead infrastructure operated by UK Power Networks, which includes low voltage supplies to 11kV and 33kV wires. The fund does not apply to the large pylons you may see which connect to Sizewell – these are part of the National Grid and carry much higher voltage power.
Schemes must be within the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape and in open country, as work within built up areas is rarely eligible.
Please see UK Power Networks website for more information, an interactive map and an opportunity for people to nominate an area for lines to be removed.
For more information contact Claire Cadman, National Landscape Projects Officer.
The removal of overhead power lines as part of a £600,000 project at the historic Suffolk village of Orford was completed in 2021.
UK Power Networks completed its work at Orford, which saw more than 5,000 metres of both 33,000-volt and 11,000-volt overhead lines replaced by new underground cabling to continue the safe delivery of power in the area.
A major project to restore the Shotley skyline was completed in 2020, enhancing the natural beauty of one of Suffolk’s most important landscapes.
UK Power Networks removed 5.2km of 11,000-volt overhead power lines, as well as 60 poles supporting them, to improve views at the popular location.