About the Peak District East project

Reducing the visual impact of a section of overhead line in the Peak District

The Visual Impact Provision project in the Peak District National Park in South Yorkshire aims to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s overhead line in and around the village of Dunford Bridge.

Stakeholders have agreed that the best way to achieve this is to remove a section of this overhead line and replace it with an underground electricity connection. It represents a major opportunity to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and environmental heritage of this precious Peak District landscape.

The section of overhead line

The section of overhead line being removed and replaced with underground cables runs from an existing sealing end compound near to the eastern entrance of the Woodhead Tunnel at Dunford Bridge, then heads eastwards along the River Don along the National Park boundary and out of the Park.

It is part of the 400kV electricity route connecting Stalybridge, Stocksbridge and Thorpe Marsh 400kV substations. The line was constructed between 1966 and 1967 and serves as an integral connection point for the local distribution network for the Manchester area.

Why was this section selected?

This section of the line, which runs from Dunford Bridge in the west, along the National Park boundary and through the Upper Don Valley to Castle Hill, was identified by an independent landscape study as having some of the greatest impacts on landscape and visual amenity.

The most notable visual impact of this section on the landscape is associated with the western part of the line, in particular the sealing end compound at Dunford Bridge and first few pylons. These are situated in elevated locations above and around the village and the car park for the Trans Pennine Trail, which are highly visible on the local skyline.

The presence of pylons also affects the experience of visitors who park at Dunford Bridge and come to walk and enjoy the scenery, along the easily-accessible Trans Pennine Trail, people using nearby National Cycle Routes and those participating in watersports at Winscar Reservoir.

Our work in the Peak District so far

Since 2015, we have held a series of technical workshops for stakeholders and public ‘drop-in’ events in the National Park. The stakeholder reference group for the project includes representatives from the Peak District National Park Authority, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, the Trans Pennine Trail, Natural England, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Dunford Parish Council.

Burying the connection underground was the preferred option with stakeholders and members of the public that have fed into our plans. It was felt that screening or camouflaging pylons would not have sufficient impact.  We continued to work extensively with local technical stakeholders to identify and develop our preferred route option for this work, taking into account environmental, archaeological and land issues that will influence where an underground route can be built.  Following public consultation in late 2018 / early 2019, a planning application was submitted in 2019.

In summer 2020 both Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and the Peak District National Park Authority granted approval for the proposals.  Construction on the project started in spring 2021 and will take approximately two years to complete.