11. What discussions his Department has had with National Grid on the undergrounding of new electricity cables. (98669)
The Department and National Grid have discussed National Grid’s new approach to network infrastructure, which emphasises mitigating visual impacts. The Department has arranged for National Grid to fund an independent study comparing the costs of undergrounding and overhead lines. We also revised the text of the relevant national policy statement to require greater consideration of alternative approaches before it was approved by Parliament.
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. I am sure he is aware that increasingly robust evidence has been gathered by the Institute of Engineering and Technology that the cost of undergrounding pylons is a lot less than National Grid has previously suggested. May we count on his support and the support of the Government to ensure that pressure is brought to bear on National Grid to underground pylons and not ruin the beautiful British countryside?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point. I think National Grid was very pleased to commission that report from the IET to get independent analysis of the costs. I know that there is a significant multiple from undergrounding or taking cables sub-sea, but we have required, through the national policy statement, that mitigation aspects and alternative approaches be looked at to preserve our precious landscape.