Somerset County Council

National Grid frequently asked questions


The following page details frequently asked questions in relation to the National Grid Hinkley Point C connection project.

Q: What has National Grid got to do with a new nuclear development at Hinkley Point C? 
A: EDF Energy has submitted a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, west Somerset.

The Planning Inspectorate (decision making body) is currently examining the application. If EDF is granted approval to build Hinkley Point C it will need to be connected to the National Grid high voltage electricity transmission system via a new set of electricity cables.

The South West is playing a key role in generating low carbon energy and, if approved, Hinkley Point C will be just one of the potential projects that will need to be connected to the National Grid.  

For further information on EDF's new nuclear proposals, visit their Hinkley Point C consultation website. 

Q: What is The National Grid and who owns it?
A: The National Grid is the high voltage electricity transmission system which operates across the United Kingdom. The National Grid is made up of pylons, overhead power lines and underground cables. The system is used for the bulk transfer of electrical energy from where it is produced (e.g. power plants and wind farms) to substations. From the substations the electricity can then be distributed locally at lower voltages to homes and businesses.

On the break-up of the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1990, the ownership and operation of the National Grid (or high voltage electricity transmission system) in England and Wales, was passed to an international electrical and gas company now known as National Grid plc. For more information visit: National Grid's website. 

Q: What is National Grid proposing?
A: If the proposed development at Hinkley Point C goes ahead, it would be one of the largest single generators connected to National Grid's system and, as a result, they would need to reinforce and upgrade the network to accommodate the extra power and ensure system security.

National Grid therefore plans to apply for permission to construct a new 400 kilovolt (kV) connection between Bridgwater substation in Somerset, and Seabank substation, north of Avonmouth.  

Q: Where will the new connection be sited?
A: National Grid consulted on two possible route "corridors" in 2009. In response to consultation feedback, National Grid selected a route corridor in 2011.

To view the selected route corridor and for more information on how National Grid made the decision visit National Grid's consultation website. 

Q: Has National Grid considered using underground or sub sea cables for the entire connection?
A: National Grid has said that they looked at the options of underground or sub sea cables prior to the first consultation going live. After consideration they ruled these options out due to financial, technical and environmental reasons.

Somerset County Council's view is that National Grid's plans didn't provide residents with the opportunity to have a proper say on what they thought was the best option. The council highlighted this concern in its formal response to National Grid's Stage 1 consultation. This can be viewed by clicking here.

As a result of the council's and others feedback, National Grid extended its Stage 1 consultation period. National Grid also distributed details of their plans to around 40,000 households and businesses that would be potentially affected.

National Grid has now confirmed that they will 'consider and evaluate' areas where undergrounding sections of the route may be appropriate. This will be subject to further consultation.

More information on underground or sub sea cables can be found by visiting National Grid's consultation website. 

Q: Why can't National Grid use the existing pylons and power lines?
A: Where possible, National Grid would like to make use of existing power lines. However, new nuclear power stations, such as the proposed Hinkley Point C, produce more electricity and have different characteristics to their older counterparts. So, additional pylons and power lines will also be required.

Q: How long is the proposed new power line?
A: The new power line would link to National Grid's existing substations in Bridgwater and Avonmouth. This means the new line could be up to 37 miles (60km) in length. However, the exact length will vary depending on the exact route chosen.

Q: How high and far apart would the pylons be?
A: The new pylons would be around 46.5 metres in height (compared to the existing 27 metre high pylons). Extensions or reductions to the height of pylons may be required in places depending on the landscape.

The average space between pylons is 365 metres. 

Q: I live between Bridgwater and Avonmouth - how would the development affect me and my community?
A: Please visit National Grid's consultation website for more information on the proposed development and a map of the proposed routes. 

Q: How can I get involved and where can I get more information?
A: Between October 2009 and July 2010, National Grid consulted on two route corridors for a new connection between Bridgwater and Seabank. This was referred to as 'Stage 1'.

Since then, National Grid has published a new corporate approach setting out a number of project stages. For further information on this, view National Grid's 'Our approach to the design and routeing of new electricity transmission lines'. 

To align with this new corporate approach, the Hinkley Point C Connection Project is now at 'Stage 3' (previously referred to as 'Stage 2').

As part of Stage 3 National Grid is carrying out a number of activities with members of the public, including: community forums, landowner engagement, and possible site specific consultations. Stage 3 will run until winter 2012.

For further information please visit National Grid's consultation website.

Q: Do pylons pose any health risks?
A: Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) are produced wherever electricity is used. There have been suggestions that these fields might be a cause of ill health.

National Grid has a responsibility to ensure the safety of their overhead lines. Levels of EMFs comply with safety standards as advised by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and adopted by the Government.

For further information on EMFs visit the website (external link). Or call 0845 702 3270. 

Q: Will there be any compensation if I live near the new pylons and cables?
A: National Grid has said that compensation may be applicable to landowners affected by the new connection. For further information visit the Landowners and Occupiers section of National Grid's Consultation website. 

Q: How can I contact National Grid?
A: National Grid can be contacted by email: 
In writing: Freepost H Point Connection
Or by phone: 0800 377 7347 (Community Relations Team)

Q: What if I'm unhappy with National Grid's consultation process?
A: Please log your concerns with us by writing to: 

Major Energy Projects Team - C4, Somerset County  Council, County Hall, Taunton TA1 4DY
Or email:                                                                                               

Q: Who makes the final decision on National Grid's application?
A: National Grid's application will be considered by the Planning Inspectorate.                      

More information can be found by visiting the Planning Inspectorate website.                  

Q: Who will pay if new pylons and power cables need to be installed?
A: The installation of new pylons, power cables and substations will be paid for by National Grid. 

Q: What is Somerset County Council's role in the consultation process?
A: Somerset County Council is a 'statutory consultee'. This means that National Grid has a duty to involve us in the consultation process. So far we have submitted a response to the first stage of National Grid's consultation. To view our response, click here.

Somerset County Council's initial response to National Grid included concerns regarding the visual impact of pylons and overhead lines on the Somerset landscape. It also highlighted the need for further explanation regarding planning mitigation and consideration of community compensation to offset the consequences of hosting such a project. 

We are also a statutory consultee for EDF's proposed new nuclear development at Hinkley Point C in west Somerset and have been consulted about the government draft National Policy Statements on nuclear energy. 

Q: Are district councils involved?
A: Yes. Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset Council are also statutory consultees as the development would potentially affect these areas of Somerset. 

Q: How are the Councils funding the resources involved in this work?
A: Whilst all three councils (Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset District Council) would have preferred central Government to provide the necessary resources for local authorities to advise on National Grid's proposals, this has not been made available.

Similar to work with EDF Energy, government advised us to work with National Grid on a 'Planning Performance Agreement'. This is a formal document, which enables us to engage appropriately in the process and ensure that local people are properly consulted.

Planning Performance Agreements are designed so that they will not impair the authorities' ability to determine planning applications, or fetter their response and involvement in any proposal submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

To view the Planning Performance Agreement click here

How to contact us

The Major Energy Projects Team
Somerset County Council
County Hall

Contact no.: 0300 123 2224

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