Residents pack village hall to fight Portbury pylon plans
HUNDREDS of people packed a public meeting in Portbury to object to plans by National Grid to change the route of a new overhead power line through the village.
Around 200 people were in the village hall last night to raise concerns after the energy giant made last- minute changes to its draft route.
Initially National Grid had planned to send the line – complete with 150ft pylons – over Caswell Lane, onto Portishead sub-station, behind the Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve and out towards Avonmouth. But now, in a change put forward in the draft route consultation, it has been changed so the line will follow the M5.
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.
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Portbury Parish Council has been working with National Grid for three years on a preferred route and had agreed the initial route.
Residents say the change in the route will cut the village in half and are angry the changes were made without any consultation.
Parish council chairman Pete Cooke said: "We need to persuade National Grid to go back to the route that we had already negotiated with them. We will not let them split our village."
Linda Hale, who is also a parish councillor, lives in Priory Lane and her property will be just 300 metres from the proposed pylons.
She said: "A route had been agreed and all of a sudden the goalposts have been changed. We feel all the consultation with National Grid over the last three years has been pointless."
Fellow Priory Road resident Tony Romanski, 55, who has lived in the village for 20 years, said: "We have been cheated and National Grid wants to run the power line right through the centre of Portbury and closer to local houses.
"They have just imposed it on us, with no consultation and are trying to run roughshod over us."
Parish councillor Valerie Marshall said: "This will be devastating for the village. We already have to put up with the M5 and the docks and National Grid is ignoring the needs of local people."
National Grid project manager Peter Bryant said the new route was chosen because it was a shorter connection and would mean fewer, smaller pylons would be needed, reducing the visual impact. It was designed to avoid Priors Wood in the village and the Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.
Mr Bryant said: "It is still a draft route and the whole route will be reviewed. I understand that people are upset and we are here to listen."
Other residents raised concerns about a possible link between electromagnetic fields emitted by high-voltage cables and childhood cancers.
National Grid says the new 37-mile power line between Bridgwater and Avonmouth is needed to bring electricity onto its transmission network.
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 permission, to be decided by the Government after a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate.