Posted: Thu 16th Jul 2020

Tunnel set to be built under North Wales beauty spot to allow removal of ‘intrusive’ pylons

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

A plan to remove overhead pylons from a North Wales beauty spot has been approved.

Gwynedd Council’s planning committee unanimously backed proposals by the National Grid to remove 10 of the pylons and replace them with a 3km tunnel under the Dwyryd Estuary.

The plan is part of a £500m programme to remove such structures from areas of outstanding natural beauty.

While the tunnel itself did not need planning permission from Gwynedd, approval was needed for one of the six metre high twin tunnel head houses and building compound, after the other – on the eastern side of the estuary –  was passed by the Snowdonia National Park earlier this month.

But satisfied of the beneficial visual impact of the project, councillors in Gwynedd took a similar view for the western end head house near Minffordd, described by officers as an “excellent opportunity” to improve the natural beauty, wildlife and environmental heritage.

“The current overhead line clashes with the character of the landscape,” a report said.

“It is very prominent and intrusive and it has an extensive influence on the surrounding landscape.

“Removing this overhead line would improve the special features of the area’s landscape, including the Aberglaslyn Registered Historic Landscape.

“The views and surroundings of the Portmeirion registered parklands and gardens and a number of listed buildings would also benefit and the views seen from local roads and paths and the coastal railway would improve, should the pylons be removed.”

The existing section of overhead line, constructed in 1966,  is part of the 400kV electricity route connecting the Pentir substation near Bangor with the former Trawsfynydd Power Station, now a 400kV substation.

Addressing the virtual meeting on Thursday, a spokesman for the Grid described the project as “world class” with the site being one of four successful applications out of 100 across England and Wales.

Chris Baynes said that move would bring “long-term benefits” as well as restoring the natural beauty of a “very special place.”

Local councillor, Gareth Thomas, described the pylons as a “scar on the landscape” while pointing out that Afon Glaslyn is already free of pylons.

He went on to praise the National Grid for the thoroughness of its local consultation, having amended the plans as a result of some feedback.

He added: “There will be some economic benefit but the main thing is to get rid of these pylons from one of the most beautiful areas of Wales.”

Described as a “no brainer” by Cllr Edgar Owen, seconding Cllr Dilwyn Lloyd’s proposal to approve, the application was backed by 10 committee members with no opposition.

Work on the project is expected to start  next year with construction complete and the pylons removed in 2026.

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter

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