NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING
On Tuesday 19th January Mark Parish Council received from The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change her recommendations on the Application for the proposed Hinkley Point C Electric Line Connection submitted by National Grid. A significant element of the proposal being the erection of T Pylons to carry 400kv overhead power lines across the Somerset Levels on a route crossing The Causeway through the village of Mark.
The Parish Council has for the last seven years been in consultation with National Grid Electricity Transmission Plc, public authorities and throughout the last twelve months has made representations to The Infrastructure Planning Officers to try and reach a compromise to the proposed pylon route, unfortunately all this work has been to no avail.
The following passages are taken from the report which can be read as a whole on the website; http://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk (Hinkley Point C Connection). Please note the abbreviation “ExA” refers to the Examining Authority.
31. The Secretary of State notes that the ExA considered evidence supplied by the relevant interested parties and examined it to conclude that there would not be adverse effects on the integrity of any of the European sites set out in paragraph 30 above either alone or in combination with other plans or projects, provided that suitable mitigation was put in place. Necessary mitigation measures have been incorporated into the Order. Natural
England agreed with these conclusions [6.5.27, 6.5.13 and 6.5.17].
115. The Secretary of State notes that there were a number of objections to the compulsory acquisition powers sought by the Applicant that remained unresolved at the close of the Examination from individuals, local councils and businesses. The grounds for objection include concerns around health, safety, environmental impact, visual impact, transport, position of specific pylons, uncertainty around the Hinkley Point C power station, impact on businesses ability to operate, and that alternative routes had not been properly considered. The Secretary of State has had regards to the objections and the ExA’s analysis of the issues and is satisfied with the modifications made by the ExA in response to some of these objections and that there are no matters raised that would preclude the exercise of the compulsory acquisition powers sought.
Compulsory Acquisition Powers – Conclusion
127. A petition was presented to the House of Commons by James Heappey MP for Wells on 9 December 2015 relating to the impact of the Development on the Wells constituency. This raises concern that the connection will have a significant and adverse impact on the visual amenity of the area; that it will cause significant disruption during construction; that it will damage the local tourist industry; and that it fails to employ the most recent technologies for transmitting electricity underground or under the sea. The petitioners therefore urge the Government to use the delay in construction of Hinkley
Point C nuclear power station as an opportunity to re-evaluate the strategic 28options available for the Hinkley Point C Electric Line Connection project and to direct that a subsea solution in the Bristol Channel be used instead.
The Secretary of State is satisfied that this representation does not raise any
new issues not already considered by the ExA that need analysing.
129. A letter was received from James Heappey MP dated 5 January 2016 setting out concerns that: there was a feeling that the Applicant had failed to value visual amenity of the countryside; that the Secretary of State’s decision be delayed until the T-pylons are tested in relation to resilience to a wet environment and terrorist action and; that an undersea connection be taken forward as an investment in respect of marine based energy schemes that might come forward and may also require a connection. With regards to the first and last point, the Secretary of State is satisfied that these issues
have been considered by the ExA. With regards to the resilience testing of T-pylons, the Secretary of State notes that this is the first connection project that has proposed using T-pylons and that they are a new form of transmission infrastructure. The Secretary of State is however satisfied that the Applicant is mindful of their statutory duties under the Electricity Act 1989 and other guidance documents and there is adequate legislation in
place that requires the Applicant to ensure the necessary precautions are taken with regards to safety of all its transmission infrastructure.
137. The Secretary of State notes that the ExA had regard to the impact upon the occupants of the various residential properties, farms, and businesses along the proposed route. The ExA noted the concerns with regards to the perceived impact upon their private and family life and the potential interference with the peaceful enjoyment of their land and property.
138. The ExA considered that the interference anticipated would be in accordance with the law and would be necessary in the interests of the (in respect of the first statutory objective (eliminating unlawful discrimination etc.) only). economic well-being of the country and that the relevant planning objectives could not be adequately achieved by means which would interfere less with the rights of individuals or businesses. The ExA accepted that there would be some interference with property and private and family life for certain residents but noted the grant of development consent need not result in the loss of any individual’s home. The ExA concluded, having given consideration to the mitigation secured in the Order in each instance, the degree of interference with the rights of individuals would be necessary in the public interest and would be proportionate [ER 8.5.377]. The Secretary of State agrees that the ExA`s rationale for reaching its conclusion and that this provides a justifiable basis for taking the view that the grant of development consent would not violate any human rights as enacted into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998.
Secretary of State’s conclusions and decision
141. For the reasons set out in this letter, the Secretary of State considers that there is a compelling case for authorising the Application given the national need for the proposed Development and that the potential adverse local impacts of the Development do not outweigh the benefits of the proposed scheme. The Secretary of State is content that making the Order would be consistent with NPS EN-1 and EN-
The Parish Council wish to thank all residents, families and friends of our community who have given of their time in endeavouring to oppose this application during the last seven years. As you may be aware, every opportunity was taken by Mark Parish Council to represent the views of parishioners across a multitude of forums and meetings with representatives of National Grid Electricity Transmission Plc, Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and The Planning Inspectorate Examining Authority (ExA), regrettably all to no effect.