First T-pylons appear on British skyline

The first newly designed electricity pylon in almost 90 years which is hoped to be less environmentally intrusive has been erected today at a site in Nottingham.

The pylons have been in the making for more than three years and are smaller and slimmer than the style familiar since the 1950s.

The new version is the brainchild of Danish architects and engineering company Bystrup and was the winner of an international competition in 2011 to find a modern design for carrying high-voltage overhead lines.

National Grid has begun construction of a line of the new high-voltage T-pylons, which at 35 metres (115 ft) in height are up to a third smaller than the traditional steel lattice pylons.

David Wright, director of electricity transmission asset management at National Grid, said: “We developed the new style of pylon so that we could have a 21st century design to offer as we plan new transmission routes.

“The T-pylon is not a replacement for the steel lattice pylon but it’s a new option and in some landscapes its shorter height and sleeker appearance can offer real advantages.”

Its layout gives the pylon a T-shaped cross arm, with the electricity wires and the insulators which hold them in place arranged in a diamond 'earring' shape. Because of the way the cables are set up, the pylon can still carry 400,000V, despite being smaller in height.

The span of six pylons currently being built at the company’s Eakring training academy will have slightly different functions. They include a standard suspension pylon to carry the cables in a straight line, pylons which can allow a turn in the route and terminal pylons which end a line at a substation or take the cables underground.

Since the T-pylon won the competition, National Grid has been working with engineers and partners to turn it into a reality and ensure it can cope with the stresses it could face, such as high winds and the extra weight of ice on the cables in extremely cold weather.

“We've been able to answer yes to the hundreds of questions that need to be asked before we can introduce a new type of pylon,” Wright said. “The training line has enabled us to learn many many lessons about how to manufacture and build the T-pylon.”

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