Public meeting in Portbury to discuss power line route change
By Prue_Reid | Wednesday, December 05, 2012, 19:19
A PUBLIC meeting is being held in Portbury tomorrow (Thursday) night in a bid to fight off plans to change the route of a new 400,000 volt power line through the village.
The route of the power line through Portbury
People living in Portbury have been angered by plans by National Grid to change the route the new power line will take through the village.
Initially National Grid had planned to route the line - complete with 150ft pylons - over Caswell Lane onto Portishead sub-station behind the Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve and out towards Avonmouth.
But now, in a change put forward in the draft route consultation, the route has been changed so the line will follow the M5.
The line will effectively run between the village of Portbury and Sheepway, with the pylons just metres away from homes at Elm Tree Park and Priory Road.
Parish leaders say the change in route will dissect the parish and bring the pylons too close to local homes.
They have now written to North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox asking him to intervene and are holding a public meeting on December 6 to look at ways to challenge the change to the route. Portbury Parish Council chairman, Councillor Pete Cooke, said: "We have been working and negotiating with National Grid for the last three years to agree the initial route.
"This change to the draft route has come out of the blue and we have not been consulted.
"As a community we have accepted the need for a pylon route through our parish and we have worked hard to minimise its impact on us by working closely with National Grid.
"It has come as a tremendous shock to both the parish council and the residents to learn that National Grid now plan to route right through the centre of the parish, giving no prior warning and very little time to respond. "We appear to be a forgotten rural community who seem to be constantly having to punch well above our weight and are under siege from external organisations who do not wish to respect our rights or listen to our concerns.
"We will not let National Grid or this new power line dissect our parish and cut our community in half." People living at Elm Tree Park at Sheepway, which has 41 park homes on the site, have also written to National Grid to object to the change in route. Jim Hall, 61, who has lived at the park with wife Joan, 71, for 16 years, is furious at the change.
Mr Hall, whose wife Joan runs the park which is owned by Bristol Port Company, said: "We are absolutely disgusted the route has been changed without any explanation by National Grid.
"We are concerned about the visual effect of the pylons, the noise, the risk to our health and the depreciation of our properties.
"These pylons will be just 60 metres away from some homes. "There is no way we are going to put up with this."
National Grid say the new 37-mile power line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth is needed to bring electricity onto its transmission network.
The energy giant said its original technical studies could not identify a direct route from Portbury towards Avonmouth.
The draft route for this section now lies outside its own preferred route corridor but National Grid say on balance the 'landscape and ecological benefits' justify the decision to make the change.
A spokesman for National Grid said: "Following detailed investigations, we have identified a technically achievable route beside the M5.
"This route runs outside the preferred route corridor, but we believe the landscape and ecological benefits justify moving outside the corridor in this location.
"We are still keen to hear the views of residents and will be meeting the Portbury residents association next week to discuss our proposals.
"We are currently consulting the public on our draft route."
People have until December 18 to make comments on the draft route. National Grid will then consult on more detailed proposals before making a formal application for consent to construct the connection. The Government will make a decision based on a recommendation made by the Planning Inspectorate. The public meeting is on December 6 at 7.30pm at Portbury Parish hall and all local residents are welcome.