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Powerful reasons to celebrate Kent Downs AONB’s 50th anniversary

UK Power Networks has invested £3.2million to underground power lines in Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) over the last ten years.

From Press releases - 23 July 2018 12:00 AM

AFTER Saltwood.jpg

The AONB unit’s close partnership with Kent’s electricity distributor, UK Power Networks, has seen 15 miles of overhead power lines routed underground.

As the AONB unit celebrates its 50th anniversary, it can look back at 12 projects that have transformed some of the best loved landscapes in the Kent Downs.

Snodland, Cuxton, Chartham Downs, Folkestone, Westerham, Saltwood, St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Cobham Park, Detling, Hucking, Ightham Mote and Throwley have all had schemes to replace overhead power lines with underground cables. A map featuring all the projects, before and after pictures and descriptions is on UK Power Networks’ website.

Each scheme was picked by environmental experts at Kent Downs AONB, working hand-in-hand with UK Power Networks, who carried out the technical work, gained the necessary legal consents for new underground cabling, then its specialist engineers carried out the work.

UK Power Networks has worked with Kent Downs AONB since 2005 to underground power lines through the company’s special fund, which is used in national parks and AONB areas.

Shaun Barrell, protected areas project manager at UK Power Networks, said: “Kent Downs is one of the founding members of our Undergrounding Steering Group and has remained a committed member of the group from the outset. We are proud of the results we have achieved together and continue to work closely on future projects which will deliver further environmental benefits for the area.
“It is always exciting to work on these schemes, which have an immediate and dramatic impact on nationally-important landscapes. Cabling is crucial because we all rely on electricity to go about our daily lives, and it’s very rewarding to work with Kent Downs AONB to carry out these projects which enhance the landscape.”
Tim Owen, from Kent Downs AONB unit, said: “The purpose of the AONB designation is to protect and enhance these important landscapes. By working with UK Power Networks on these projects we are directly achieving this. Undergrounding overhead power lines now forms an important and exciting part of the work of the AONB unit, we look forward to continued work with UK Power Networks and seeing more overhead cable removed from the landscape.”

Since 2005, the company has invested £18.1million in the South East and East Anglia to underground power lines, improving views in AONBs and national parks.  Plans are progressing for further schemes in the Kent Downs AONB which aim to invest another £3.7 million to remove a further 19 miles of overhead lines across another six schemes, subject to landowner approvals.

Projects are chosen by a regional steering group of environmental experts, including Kent Downs AONB, and chaired by Natural England. UK Power Networks provides technical support and guidance to the group and its specialist engineering teams carry out the projects.