Alternative 132,000 volt designs
There are a range of different technologies available for the new line, including steel pylons, heavy duty double wood poles and single wood pole Trident designs.
We also considered placing the new line entirely underground. However, this was discounted due to cost and not being the technically preferred option. Also, overhead lines are not generally considered incompatible in rural areas such as that covered by this project.
Wood pole Trident design
Following a review of the available options for this project, we are proposing to use a wood pole Trident design which would comprise mostly single poles. We consider that this design will have less of an impact on the area compared to the others and will provide a better fit within the local landscape.
This design offers more flexibility in how we route the line than the other options, which helps in reducing potential impacts on important sites, communities and properties. A Trident design also assists us in addressing landowner requests when determining the best location for poles on site.
As we develop our proposals the design will include construction areas, about every 5km along the line, and ‘cablepulling’ points. This is where conductors (the wires that carry the electricity) are strung onto the wood poles by a winch or tractor and tensioner with a mobile elevated platform. Construction access would be via local roads, farm tracks and field gates. Construction vehicles would typically be regular 20 tonne lorries. The installation would have an overall construction phase of approximately six months.
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Why our proposals are needed
The importance of the North Shropshire reinforcement project
The current local electricity distribution network has been supplying North Shropshire with electricity reliably for many years. But with future growth plans in the region planned up to 2026 and beyond, we need to reinforce the network and provide additional capacity.
"These proposals are good news. Shropshire Council has been pressing for investment in North Shropshire infrastructure, including Whitchurch, for a number of years. With the new homes and employment sites proposed, we are going to need the extra power. The North Shropshire reinforcement project will help our area realise its economic ambitions and ensure that we continue to enjoy a reliable electricity supply."
Councillor Steve Charmley, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Business and Economy
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Our work so far
Being aware of the need to reinforce the existing electricity distribution network to support increased demand for electricity in the area, we have investigated a number of route options.
It is essential that we determine the most appropriate route for the proposed wood pole line and, in so doing, seek to minimise the impact on the area for landowners and the local communities.
We have undertaken a wide range of assessments to find options that we think best achieve this.
Where to reinforce the network
During 2015, SP Energy Networks considered a number of alternative overhead line routes from other substations at Legacy and Marchwiel near Wrexham, Crewe and Shrewsbury. These alternatives, however, have been discounted due to technical suitability, costs and potential increased environmental impacts. The route from Oswestry to Wem was considered most suitable.
Choosing route corridors
In the latter part of 2015 and early 2016, we considered the location of villages and towns, the landscape, cultural heritage and other environmental sensitivities to develop broad route corridors (broad ribbons of land) which we could route the line within.
From our initial routeing work, we then identified two route corridors from Oswestry to Wem, each up to 1km wide, and assessed them to see which had the least impact overall. We have based our consultation zone on an area around these two route corridors to give local people in this area the opportunity to be involved.
Identifying line routes
More recently in 2016, we have carried out further work within the overall preferred corridor to identify and then consider alternative line route options. These alternative line routes are 100 metres wide at this stage, which enables flexibility for a more refined design at the next stage of our work. These line routes also include the land needed for constructing the overhead line (such as temporary construction roads and lay-down areas).
Choosing a preferred line route
We’re now consulting with local communities and specialist bodies (such as heritage and environmental groups) to seek their comments on our work and the options, including the preferred option we have identified and associated construction areas. This feedback will help us check the decisions we have made and provide information to develop a detailed design.
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What we need to know from you
Your feedback has an important role to play in establishing the best route for the new line.
We’ve done lots of work to identify routes and would now like your local knowledge and comments to check the decisions we’ve made and develop our proposals further.
We’d like you tell us what effects you think our proposals could have on the local area, such as farming, communities, the landscape, wildlife, ecology and anything else you consider important.
Specifically, we are consulting on:
- The preferred line route in terms of its location and limits
- The likely environmental impacts of the preferred line route and its associated construction works, such as storage areas for equipment i.e. lay-down areas, and transport
- The other line route options that have been considered
- Any other aspects of this project that you think SP Energy Networks should consider
- SP Energy Networks’ approach to consultation
We’d like your comments on all of these things and would appreciate as much detail as you can provide. (link to our consultation)
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Using your feedback together with our own assessments we can identify a preferred line route that keeps any impacts as low as we can. We will review our proposals in line with the information we receive and develop them further. We will consult again in 2017 to get comments on a detailed design which will include the locations of the poles. This will be a statutory stage of consultation before making an application for planning permission.
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