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Success putting power lines underground

For a number of years, Friends of the Lake District has been campaigning to reduce the impact of overhead electricity and telephone lines on the landscape...

It recently had a campaign success. In January, two beauty spots near Coniston in Cumbria were the first places in the Lake District National Park to have overhead power lines replaced by underground cables. In all, over 1.5km of overhead power lines were removed.

United Utilities undertook the work as part of a project by Friends of the Lake District to tackle intrusive power lines in beautiful locations.

The branch has a project officer working one and a half days a week on its overhead wires project. One of the schemes currently underway is a countrywide project to underground overhead electricity lines in National Parks and [glossary: Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty}Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty{/glossary}.

In 2005, Ofgem, the body that regulates the electricity market, agreed to provide an allowance for electricity distribution companies to underground electricity lines in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Friends of the Lake District is working with the Lake District National Park Authority, the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and United Utilities to ensure the scheme is a success in Cumbria and the North West.

Friends of the Lake District would like to see a similar initiative to that for electricity distribution for the telecommunications industry, but this is proving very difficult. It is talking with both the regulator, Ofcom, and the main network provider BT Openreach.