Highly-controversial proposals which could see pylons towering over the Broads are to be the subject of a key ‘summit’ meeting in Norfolk.

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Convened by South Norfolk Council and the Broads Authority, next month’s meeting will see council leaders come face to face with the officials whose plans could see pylons snaking across parts of the Waveney and Yare Valleys.

The National Grid has said a 40km power line from Lowestoft to Norwich will be needed to connect the giant East Anglia One wind farm, under construction about 43km off the Suffolk coast, to the national network. While detailed routes have yet to be unveiled, it is feared that both the Waveney and Yare valleys could be affected and that the cables could be carried by ugly pylons.

That led the EDP launching its Say No To Pylons campaign in November, which has been supported by hundreds of our readers.

Critics have demanded that if the scheme does go ahead, cables must be buried beneath ground, so as not to spoil the beauty of the Norfolk and Suffolk countryside.

And, at a meeting at South Norfolk Council’s headquarters in Long Stratton on Monday, February 4, representatives from the National Grid and East Anglia One, will be quizzed by officers over the plans – and told about the strength of feeling the EDP’s campaign has shown is out there.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “The purpose of the meeting is to understand how the public consultation is going to be run and to make sure that they understand the real issues which people have, as has been highlighted through the EDP’s campaign.”

And he said his council would organise and hold a public meeting when the consultation on the proposed route of the cables begins in earnest.

He added: “I’m hoping that public meeting will coincide with the start of the consultation. I don’t know when that will be yet, but that way we can minimise confusion and misunderstandings by providing a forum for the real issues to be discussed.

“That way the public will get the chance to make clear what they feel and how we need to frame our responses to the consultation.”

Conservative and Liberal Democrat members of South Norfolk Council have already unanimously backed a motion stating they would not support any-thing other than under-ground cables unless it was demonstrated that another solution was “environ-mentally sound and sustainable”.

National Grid bosses have said options will be revealed this year, possibly in the summer, while promoters of the North Sea offshore wind farm which would feed the line say the cables will provide enough renewable energy to power up to five million homes.

Last week, the minister for planning hit out at “ugly pylons” which people would not want to see “march across the landscape” after hearing how the structures could be built across the Norfolk Broads.

Nick Boles explained he could not explicitly back the EDP’s campaign, because to do so would go against the principle of local decision making, which he supported. But he did say: “What I can do is remind you and your readers that the National Planning Policy Framework which sets national policy, is extremely clear about what is and isn’t, firstly, acceptable on environmental impact.

“Secondly [it sets out] what are protected areas; and there are different degrees of [protection] and the broads probably sits in a number of those depending on which bit of the broads you are talking about, but those protections are very firm.”

Meanwhile former Poet Laureate and ex-University of East Anglia professor of creative writing Sir Andrew Motion recently criticised the rise of pylons.

Now president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Sir Andrew said he feared coalition proposals to relax planning rules meant: “We will be left with a countryside so fragmented that it will be impossible to find a view unimpeded by pylons or warehouses.”

You can lend your support to the campaign by visiting www.edp24.co.uk/news/say-no-to-pylons

COMMENT – Page 24

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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