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Second phase of £30million scheme to boost power supplies and improve views

Engineers are set to start the next phase of a multi-million pound scheme - including drilling under the rivers Orwell and Stour – to boost power supplies in south Suffolk and north Essex.

From Press releases - 25 April 2017 12:00 AM

Felixstowe Port view.jpg

The ambitious £30m plan by UK Power Networks, which invests more than £500m in its electricity networks each year to ensure the lights stay on in the East of England, South East and London, has already seen seven kilometres of trenches dug, one kilometre of cable laid, and new high voltage equipment installed between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

While this work is continuing, the second phase gets underway next week, which includes:

• directional drilling under the rivers Orwell and Stour – a distance of 1.1km and 1.7km respectively – effectively linking the peninsulas together under the riverbeds
• digging trenches to lay new cables in Shotley,
• laying 12km of 33,000-volt cables between Felixstowe, Shotley and Dovercourt.

Project manager Chris Sugars said: “It’s quite rare for electricity companies to undertake such a challenging project to drill beneath two major rivers, so we are bringing in expert teams to help us carry out this work.
“Much of the first phase is on farm land and we have liaised with multiple organisations to safeguard natural habitats and archeological artefacts, such as the foundations of an Iron Age round house which were uncovered last year and the recent discoveries of medieval wells.

“As well as drilling under the rivers during the summer, the second phase involves working in residential areas which will include a number of roadworks in the village of Shotley as we lay the new electricity cables.

“We have spoken with residents and local councils, and will continue to work closely with all those involved to keep disruption to a minimum during this complex project, which will boost the power supplies to 45,000 customers in south Suffolk and north Essex.”

Shotley Parish Council chairman Barrie Powell added: “We have been working closely with UK Power Networks to ensure the upcoming works cause minimal disruption to the local community and will continue doing so as the works progress”

The whole project is due to be completed at the end of 2018. Once the new electricity cables are connected and electricity is flowing through them, more than 20 kilometres of overhead power lines will be removed from the scenic landscape along the River Orwell, so improving the appearance of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Protection Areas along the rivers and coastline.

Archaeological work ahead of the trenches being dug have unearthed a number of interesting finds including early Bronze Age round barrows, the foundations of an Iron Age round house and remnants of a Roman settlement.