Overhead Power Lines 2012-17
The wildlife, natural appearance and maintenance of the Rye Meadows have always been adversely affected by the presence of two sets of overhead power cables. The 33kV towers and 11kV poles and cables currently belong to UK Power Networks (UKPN) (Fig1).Hedges and trees under any cables have to be regularly cut back causing disturbance to birds and other wildlife as well as effort and expense. Fortunately the equipment and lines had only ‘wayleave’ (annually renewable).
In March 2013 (after 9 months of searching) Peter Williams of Fairholme Crescent, on behalf of Daphne Burnett, found the appropriate UKPN contact. During a site visit by UKPN they advised us to request the undergrounding of the 11kV line first and to apply later for the 33kV line. At the end of 2013 UKPN kindly agreed to bury the cables at their own expense in a 2 metre wide ‘easement’ on the south edge of the meadows and to remove the redundant 11kV poles. However, it took 3 more years of wildlife and environment surveys before the contracts were signed.
In mid-2016 Peter found out that, unknown to our contact at UKPN, the first contractor had withdrawn. Peter pointed out that it was already coming up to 4 years with no action. A new contractor, Morrison, was soon appointed and volunteered to dig trenches in the fields during the winter of 2016-7 despite the soggy conditions. UKPN justified the undergrounding cost by designing a significant upgrade to the electricity infrastructure’s capacity and resilience that should avoid the power cuts suffered by residents at the western end of Links Road whenever a squirrel committed Hari-Kiri on the 11kV line. An extra 11kV cable was laid under Bushey Shaw and a new transformer was installed in the ‘Links Road West’ sub-station - enabling automated recovery from a single failure.
We were delighted that Morrison made great efforts to minimise damage and to reinstate everywhere they worked and grateful that they finished before the May 2017 WWI Centenary Field Dedication. Our 11kV objectives were finally reached on 11th April 2017 when UKPN contractor, Avidity, took away 7 poles and cables (see before and after)
Now we are campaigning to have as much as possible of the 33kV line removed or buried.
The 33kV Tower in Jack Adams Field is on the route where we would like to have a public access ‘towpath’. It is also right next to the Rye making it necessary to continue to cut regularly a line of hedges and trees.
The 33kV tower shown below stands in Fraudings and carries cables that require regular tree cutting. Undergrounding of the 33kV line already starts eastwards at the ‘H Frame’ HP1 at #9 Rye Field.
The 33kV line does not serve Ashtead but goes from Leatherhead to Betchworth. It is already underground across Rye Field, Woodland Copse, Ashtead Common and Overdale (see narrow red line to right of Fig3).
Peter Williams (July 2017)