A total of 12 electricity lines have been highlighted as having a significant impact on protected landscapes

Power lines to be removed from four protected landscapes

Electricity pylons and overhead lines will be removed from four protected landscapes, under plans unveiled by National Grid.

A £500m allowance made available by regulator Ofgem up to the year 2021 will go towards replacing stretches of high-voltage transmission lines with underground cables in the New Forest, Peak District and Snowdonia national parks and Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

A total of 12 sections of electricity lines in eight national parks and AONBs across England and Wales were highlighted as having the most significant impact on protected landscapes, but the four schemes have been prioritised ahead of landscapes in the Brecon Beacons National Park and High Weald, North Wessex Downs and Tamar Valley AONBs.

"Reducing the visual impact of pylons and power lines in our most precious landscapes is highly desirable, but it is also very expensive and technically complex so we have had to make some difficult decisions," said environmentalist Chris Baines, who chaired the stakeholder group of conservation organisations which advised National Grid on which transmission lines to prioritise.

"Although four schemes have been prioritised, none of the locations on our original short list have been dropped and they will remain under consideration for future work to reduce the impact of National Grid's transmission lines under the vision impact provision project."

A number of alternative methods of reducing the visual impact of the lines were considered, but National Grid said that underground cabling was generally the preferred option both technically and after discussion with local stakeholders.

National Grid will also use £24m of the £500m for smaller projects to improve landscape views and reduce the visual impact of existing electricity structure in national parks and AONBs.

Hector Pearson, from National Grid, said: "This is a unique stakeholder-driven project, and it continues to represent a major opportunity to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife, cultural and environmental heritage of some areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks."

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