Thursday, April 06, 2017
How can you say you have considered tourism yet are still proposing an overhead line?
by Jacqui Fenn, senior consents officer
This is a question that we’ve been asked a number of times as we have developed our proposals.
As tourism is important to Anglesey and North Gwynedd it has been part of our thinking at every stage of the project. We have designed the route so that it keeps effects on tourist businesses as low as possible, while balancing this with the other considerations we have to take into account.
It’s important to say that in our experience, which is supported by independent research, pylons don’t necessarily have a negative effect on the tourism of an area. There are many places in the UK where there are pylons close to popular tourist areas and businesses continue to perform well. In Pembrokeshire, for example, there is a double overhead line and a thriving tourism industry.
This 2014 independent UK-wide survey on the effect of our major projects on the local economy suggests the same. The majority of respondents said there had been no negative impact on their business as a result of new pylons being close by. We’re currently doing a piece of similar research in North Wales to assess opinions and analysis of the findings will be included in the environmental impact assessment which will support our planning application.
Of course on Anglesey and in Gwynedd there have been pylons, substations and power stations since the 60’s. The latest Welsh Government statistics published in March show the importance of tourism and that spend is increasing. The Daily Post had an article recently about the rising visitor numbers and the confidence of North Wales Tourism that these numbers will continue to rise.
So what work have we done to consider tourism and reduce any potential effects of our work on the local economy?
Our proposals keep away from the coast, which our assessments and your feedback said were the most valued areas for tourism. We have also tried to avoid the larger towns and villages and by keeping the new line close to the existing we are not affecting new parts of the island with the new pylons. At the Menai Strait we’re putting the connection in a tunnel in recognition of the valued landscape and importance of the area to the local economy. As our proposals have become more detailed, we have also looked carefully at properties and businesses along the route and are looking at positioning pylons to keep any effects on them as low as we can.
Our assessments to date suggest the majority of effects will be in the areas close to the overhead lines, not more widely on Anglesey and North Gwynedd as a whole.
This is not to say there are no tourism businesses or properties near to the proposed second line. But that we think the chosen route provides the overall best option to keep effects on tourism as low as we can across the two counties, compared to other options we considered.
Of course, the local economy and tourism are not the only things we must consider. Our proposals must also take account of landscape, ecology and heritage and the technical and cost requirements placed on us. We must find a way of balancing effects on all of these many important considerations.
We are currently working hard to achieve this balance as we refine our proposals following last year’s consultation, and tourism and local economy will continue to be important to this ongoing work.