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Renewed calls for undergrounding as pylon consultation draws to an end

PLAID CYMRU politicians have reiterated their calls for a controversial proposed pylon route between south Ceredigion and Carmarthen to be undergrounded as the initial consultation period draws to an end.

The Green Gen Towy Teifi project will link Bute Energy’s proposed Lan Fawr Energy Park, north of Lampeter, into a new National Grid substation proposed for south of Carmarthen.

As part of the project, a 52km-long 132kV overhead line has been proposed – with the development in its first phase before a formal application is submitted, classified as a Development of National Significance in Wales.

As part of the initial consultation process, significant concerns have been raised by residents and businesses about the visual, environmental and economic impact of the proposed overhead line – with several public meetings and campaign groups forming over recent weeks to oppose the proposals.

Their concerns have also been echoed by local Plaid Cymru politicians, who have pressed on the proposed line to be buried underground – in accordance with best practice in other areas of the UK and Europe.

These concerns over the proposed Tywi Teifi network were raised in the Senedd last week with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, by Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru’s Senedd Member for Mid & West Wales, reiterating calls for the undergrounding of the route.

Responding to Mr Campbell’s question, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the Welsh Government’s policy – being “electricity transmission cables should be placed underground where possible, not just in designated landscapes, but where possible.”

Cefin Campbell MS also outlined the case for the Welsh Government to consider cable ploughing in future electricity transmission projects.

The methods involves moving machinery cutting a slit in the ground and laying a cable or duct as it goes along with the disturbed ground flattened and reinstated as part of the process.

Cable ploughing allows the burial of up to a Kilometre of132kV cable in a day – and is considered to be more cost effective and less disruptive than other methods of undergrounding or pylon erection.

Speaking following his question, Cefin Campbell MS, “I’m glad the First Minister reiterated the Welsh Government’s stance that cables should be placed underground where possible. With more and more of these overhead pylon proposals popping up across the length and breadth of Wales, now is the time to put such policy into practice.

We already know that undergrounding is already commonplace in many European countries – particularly through the developing cable plough technology. Welsh Government should be placing greater emphasis for developers to incorporate such undergrounding into their proposals.”

Elin Jones MS said, “We are all keen to ensure that we produce more green energy so that we tackle climate change and improve energy self-sufficiency. Whilst wind turbines obviously have to be above ground, there is no such necessity for grid cables. I strongly believe that such cables should be underground and I’ll be pressing this case strongly on behalf of constituents.”

Ben Lake MP for Ceredigion said, “In recent weeks I have been contacted by a large number of residents and community groups regarding the Tywi Teifi proposal by Green Gen Cymru. They have expressed a range of concerns about the proposed route, and have made a persuasive case against the deployment of new pylon infrastructure.

“I have relayed these concerns to the company, in addition to the suggestion that was put to me by many residents that any necessary transmission infrastructure should be placed underground. Indeed, I understand that a number of European countries have adopted this approach for new transmission lines by embracing new methods of undergrounding the infrastructure, which I believe Green Gen Cymru should urgently consider.”

The initial deadline for Green Gen Cymru’s consultation on the proposed route was the 6 March 2024. However, following issues with the website, which were raised by Ben Lake MP, the deadline was extended to 11:59pm on 13 March 2024.

The consultation can be completed by visiting their website: https://greengentowyteifi.com/en/