Portbury group hopes people power can change pylon route
AN action group is to be set up in Portbury to continue to campaign for changes to the route of a new power line in the village to be dropped.
Parish council chairman Councillor Pete Cooke is to set up a residents' and council action group to fight plans by National Grid to put a new 400,000 overhead line right through the village.
Initially the energy giant had planned to route the line – complete with 150ft pylons – over Caswell Lane onto Portishead sub-station behind the Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve and out towards Avonmouth.
But in a last minute change put forward in the draft route consultation, the route has been changed so the line will follow the M5.
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The line will effectively run between the village of Portbury and Sheepway, with the pylons just metres away from homes at Elm Tree Park and Priory Road.
Parish leaders say the change in route will cut through the parish and bring the pylons too close to local homes. Earlier this month nearly 200 residents packed into a public meeting to voice their concerns to National Grid bosses about the change.
Villagers said they had not been consulted on the change – and it came as a bolt from the blue.
Representatives from the energy firm were presented with a This Is Your Life-style book made up of more than 50 letters from angry residents objecting to the route change.
The new action group will continue to lobby National Grid to change its plans.
Portbury Parish Council chairman, Councillor Pete Cooke, said: "We need to keep the screws on National Grid and ensure pressure from local residents is maintained.
"Residents need to play a big part in objecting to this route change and it cannot be the parish council alone – it needs to be a community based action group. We are urging all the residents who attended the meeting who took home the feedback forms to fill them in to ensure National Grid knows their views.
"As a community we have accepted the need for a pylon route through our parish and we have worked hard to minimise its impact on us by working closely with National Grid.
"But we do not want them through the centre of the village."
Mr Cooke is also planning to meet North Somerset Council leader Councillor Nigel Ashton to discuss the residents' concerns.
National Grid say the new 37-mile power line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth is needed to bring electricity onto its transmission network.
The energy giant said its original technical studies could not identify a direct route from Portbury towards Avonmouth.
The draft route for this section now lies outside its own preferred route corridor but National Grid says on balance the "landscape and ecological benefits" justify the decision to make the change.
People have until December 18 to make comments on the draft route.
National Grid will then consult on more detailed proposals before making a formal application for consent to construct the connection. The Government will make a decision based on a recommendation made by the planning inspectorate.