A major investment has been made to remove over 2.8 kilometres of overhead electricity cables in Cumbria. Electricity North West has carried out the work at RSPB Clesketts in North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and at Helsington Church and Aughertree, near Caldbeck, both sites falling within the Lake District National Park. 

Pictured: Power lines undergrounded at Helsington Church - Before, during and after

The firm, who operate the region’s power network, has spent more than £700,000 to remove these overhead electricity cables and then underground them.  These were the final three projects in an eight-year undergrounding programme focussed on protected landscapes in the north west region. In total, over £7 million has now been invested in Cumbria, undergrounding 35 kilometres of overhead wires and poles.    

The investment was provided by a national undergrounding allowance provided by the Government energy regulator, Ofgem. The good news is that a new five-year programme has now been agreed and put in place to continue undergrounding work to enhance the landscapes of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with a budget of £6 million allocated to the north west region. 

Tracey Cuthbertson, who oversees undergrounding schemes for Electricity North West in Cumbria, said: 

“We’re delighted to be able to continue in our work to enhance the local landscape by removing these power lines and wood poles so everyone can enjoy this beautiful part of Cumbria.  

“The North West’s power network is one of the most reliable in the world and we want to maintain the best supply to our customers. At times, we do understand the overhead lines can impact the local landscapes and that’s why we utilise the scheme to underground overhead lines where possible. 

“With funding for a further five years, we are able to continue to work with the Lake District National Park Authority to identify additional areas which may benefit from seeing overhead lines removed and undergrounded.” 

Friends of the Lake District Overhead Wires Officer Amanda McCleery said: 

“It has been fantastic to see wire clutter removed from different locations across the county, not just in Lake District National Park but also in North Pennines AONB. We campaigned heavily to Ofgem for the undergrounding allowance to be introduced back in the early 2000’s and are thrilled that, thanks in part to our continued pressure, it now continues into a third decade as there are still more lines to remove in order to improve the visual amenity of our precious landscapes.” 

Tim Duckmanton, Strategy and Environment Team Leader at the Lake District National Park Authority said: 

“Continuing our essential work with Electricity North West, in the special Lake District landscape, will ensure the power network is maintained whilst not detracting from the natural beauty of the place. We’re delighted to look forward to working together with partners to identify many more sites within the National Park over the coming years.”