Friends of the Lake District has welcomed recent work to remove 1.2km of overhead lines near Hawkshead and run them underground instead.

Electricity North West, which operates Cumbria's power network, has invested £300,000 in the work, part of its £6m visual amenity programme, which sees overhead lines removed across national parks and landscapes in the North West. 

As part of the programme, as well as removing overhead lines, a new section of the power network is then installed underground.

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 underground overhead lines where possible.

“We’ll continue to work with the Lake District National Park Authority to identify additional areas which may benefit from seeing overhead lines removed and undergrounded.”

Before and after view

Before and after power lines were removed from Thompson Ground, near Hawkshead

Tim Duckmanton, Team Leader Strategy and Environment, Lake District National Park Authority said: “Thanks to all our partners great work on this project we are seeing continual removal of intrusive infrastructure. This work is critical to maintain a resilient power network in the Lake District and reduce its impact upon the natural beauty of the world famous landscape.”

Friends of the Lake District has been campaigning about overhead lines since the 1930s. It published a report in 2003 called “A Clear View” which assessed the scope of placing overhead lines underground. This was key in persuading the government regulator, Ofgem, to establish an allowance amongst electricity companies to underground wires and poles within protected landscapes.

Friends of the Lake District Overhead Wires Officer Amanda McCleery added: “It has been fantastic to get such a long stretch of wire clutter removed from this special landscape near Hawkshead, with its stunning views to both the Coniston Fells and the Fairfield Horseshoe – and footpaths to Grizedale Forest Park and Hawkshead village crossing the site. 

“It is great news, in our 90th birthday-year, that this important programme to enhance protected landscapes across Cumbria will soon enter its third decade, thanks in no small part to sustained campaigning by Friends of the Lake District over many years.”