A project to bury intrusive, low voltage, power lines which cross the woods at Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest has been given the initial go ahead by the committee responsible for overseeing allocation of the Ofgem allowance for enhancing beauty spots in AONBs and National Parks.
The Forestry Commission-owned site is home to one of the world's finest conifer collections and the wider Forest is managed for timber and heavily used by 400,000 members of the public for cycling, walking, running, horse riding and adventure play.
The power lines are highly visible across the area, particularly from the Park lane where visitors enjoy their first view of the Pinetum. The poles and cables – which are bright green – continue to mar the area’s scenic beauty along the full length of the lane and also run across Marshalls Lake, a popular beauty spot.
As well as improving the setting of a nationally-important historic garden, the undergrounding will remove a woodland management hazard from well-used tracks in the wider Forest.
The project builds on the success of an ongoing partnership between electricity operator UK Power Networks (who own the lines), Natural England and representatives of AONB and National Parks to enhance the appearance of some of Britain’s most important landscapes. Between 2010 and 2015, UK Power Networks invested £6.6million in projects to replace 77km of low voltage overhead lines with underground cables in the South East of England. Two projects have already been funded in the High Weald: one near Jack Fuller's follies at Brightling in East Sussex, one at Little Scotney Farm near Finchcocks in Kent and one is in progress at a National Trust property Sheffield Park. The Partnership are keen to identify other projects suitable for the funding.
“We are delighted with this ongoing collaboration between UK Power Networks and protected landscape partnerships across England and Wales. The High Weald is an outstanding medieval landscape, facing significant development pressure, and we welcome the contribution this Scheme makes to enhancing its beauty spots” says Sally Marsh, AONB Co-Director.
A technical feasibility study led by UK Power Networks will start shortly and will be followed by consultation on the proposed project led by the AONB Partnership.
Find out more about current projects
UK Power Network map of protected landscape undergrounding projects