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09/06/2021

SSEN Commit To South Downs National Park Improvement Scheme

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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has announced plans to underground a section of its South Downs National Park infrastructure as part of the distribution operator's programme to replace overhead lines in areas that will benefit most from visual improvement.

The project, located in the Hampshire medieval market town of Bishop's Waltham, is part of a £15m investment programme by SSEN to underground 90km of overhead distribution lines in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and National Scenic Areas in central southern England and the north of Scotland.

This £150,000 undergrounding programme by SSEN is now under way and is being carried out across land on Franklin, Dean and St Clair's Farms; land which provides many people with footpaths and stunning views across the local countryside. The work to remove this section of the overhead network will also remove the necessity to carry out future tree-cutting works on the vegetation that lines the nearby bridleway.

Over the course of the summer, SSEN will excavate just over one kilometre of the farms' land to enable the current overhead network to be undergrounded, replacing the existing poles and cables with modern, robust underground cabling.

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A small, ground-mounted substation is also being built to replace the overhead transformers; helping to provide a more resilient power supply now and in years to come, as local customers adopt low carbon technologies to achieve their net zero goals.

The site had been proposed by local stakeholders as having the potential for visual improvement through the removal of the overhead network, and through subsequent consultation and analysis of the works was approved as part of SSEN's £15 million undergrounding programme.

Carl James, SSEN's Project Manager said: "I'm delighted to be working on this scheme, which will improve the views for so many local residents and visitors to this stunning area. The initial proposal for the works came from the town's stakeholders who identified this area and applied to SSEN for the works to be approved.

"After carefully considering the environment, the landscape and how the works would be carried out, SSEN gave the green light to the project which involves over one kilometre of the overhead network being undergrounded to provide an uninterrupted view of the local area."

He added: "SSEN is working closely with Franklin, Dean and St Clair's Farms throughout this project to prevent any disruption the excavation works for the underground cable may cause, and to accommodate their important planting and harvesting schedules."

While SSEN's overhead infrastructure provides a secure and cost-effective way of safely distributing electricity to homes and businesses, the distribution operator appreciates that the network can have an impact on the natural environment in officially designated beauty spots.

It's through this understanding that SSEN encourages local people and visitors to these areas to share their views and assist in highlighting where investment through this £15 million undergrounding scheme will make the most difference.

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