Last call for Pylons Objections, as Rhun presses energy regulator to help Anglesey

·         Ofgem agree to AM’s call for more assessment of cost to island
·         Hundreds of letters presented from residents in Star area
·         AM secures study on whether undergrounding should be favoured for all major UK connections
·         Consultation deadline looms
Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth has called on the head of the energy regulator Ofgem to step in to stop a new row of pylons being built across Anglesey. Ofgem sets the rules for major power transmission projects.
At a meeting in the Assembly in Cardiff, Mr ap Iorwerth called on Ofgem Chief Executive Dermot Nolan to recognize the cost Anglesey was being asked to pay to provide the rest of the UK with the cheapest possible transmission option. He argued that individuals were paying through the value of their homes, and that the tourism industry in particular, worth £250m a year to the island, was under threat. Many people were unaware of the scale of the proposal, he said.
After the meeting, Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “Whilst Dermot Nolan couldn’t give the assurance we need, he listened and clearly heard the message. He made it clear that he has the power to ask National Grid to think again.
“All I am asking is that National Grid is given the permission to spend more – to make the necessary investment, as they are doing elsewhere. Grid recently announced they’ll spend hundreds of millions of pounds undergrounding cables in the Lake District and other National Parks. Well, Anglesey deserves no less. I know that Anglesey is not a National Park, but we are a UNESCO Geopark, and are blessed with areas of outstanding natural beauty.”
The AM said he did make some potentially important gains, with Ofgem agreeing to demand a more in-depth assessment of how much the pylons would cost Anglesey. With Rhun pointing out that countries such as Germany and Denmark are now favouring undergrounding as a matter of policy, Mr Nolan agreed to initiate a study of whether such a policy would be best for the UK too.
Rhun said: “I was pleased that Ofgem agreed to explicitly ask National Grid to make a cost benefit analysis, including an assessment of potential damaging visual effects.  We need to know how much this is costing Anglesey.
“The study on undergrounding, including environmental and economic benefits, is potentially important. I have also written to the UK Government asking whether it intends to follow Germany’s example by making it their policy to support new underground electricity cables rather than new pylons. It’s becoming the norm elsewhere. Why not here?”
The meeting was also an opportunity for Rhun to hand over hundreds of letters from concerned constituents in the Star area. Rhun, who recently met local residents, added:
“Star is the only example where the route deviates from the original line, meaning that Star and the surrounding area would be boxed-in between the current pylons and the new line proposed by the Grid.  I was pleased to be able to pass on the letters of concerned residents to the head of Ofgem personally and to be able to convey their worries to him.”
The AM also encouraged Ofgem to join calls for a cable-carrying bridge, turning the Britannia into a dual carriageway, rather than opting for a cable tunnel under the Menai Strait. Mr ap Iorwerth argues that to spend £150m on a tunnel now, and another £150m on a bridge in coming years would be a scandalous waste of money.
The AM said he has received an assurance from the First Minister that discussions with National Grid are ongoing.
The latest National Grid consultation ends on December 16th. The AM is encouraging as many people as possible to make their voices heard by sending their objections to Freepost, National Grid NW Connection.
Another public meeting will be held at Llangefni Town Hall this Friday at 7pm.