400kV power line set to cut through planned Dunton garden village

A 400kV power line to transfer electricity generated by nuclear and wind is set to march through land set aside for a 4,000-home garden village in Brentwood.

It means Dunton Garden Village – a vital component of Brentwood’s future housing plans – could be dominated by high voltage overhead transmission lines suspended by 45 to 50 metre-tall steel lattice pylons.

Brentwood Borough Council said it is reviewing the proposals – that National Grid say are crucial to ensuring a reliable power supply.

However a property expert said it was likely that the National Grid plans could adversely affect the appeal of the development to the south of the A127 on the borders of Brentwood, Basildon and Thurrock, to potential housebuyers.

National Grid says that while the network in East Anglia can accommodate the level of generation and demand that there is today, this situation will change over the next decade. It expects its new 180 km long connection between Suffolk and Tilbury – of which one section runs through Brentwood – to be completed by 2030.

The planned Dunton Garden Village, which is expected see the first 1,650 homes built in the next 11 years, is a vital part of the newly adopted Brentwood local plan accounting for around a third of the total housing needs of the borough between 2016 and 2033.

Developers CEG, the main promoter of the site, has submitted an outline planning application to Brentwood Borough Council for the £780million development over 226 hectares.

There will be schools, healthcare, community and sports facilities, shops, services, new and improved infrastructure and around half of the site will be green space.

But Russell Quirk, a Brentwood-based property expert said the power line could affect people’s enthusiasm to buy a property.

He said: “Unfortunately, home buyers become pretty spooked by what they may consider intrusive infrastructure.

“Whilst the data may say that living beneath such a power line is safe, sentiment from would be home purchasers at the proposed Dunton Garden suburb may well be affected by the thought of a gazillion volts of electricity hovering over their heads.

“It reminds me of mobile telephone masts and the uproar that were is when these are proposed in localities near to residential properties. Should it matter? No. Will it? I suspect it rather might.”

The plans. which were published last week, see a power line passing into Essex past Chelmsford and then the east of Ingatestone. The route then crosses the A12 and the railway in the north of the Brentwood district.

The line then travels directly south crossing multiple times between the Basildon and Brentwood districts. Passing to the east of Hutton and and to the west of Billericay.

It then cross the A127 and travel south at the point where Brentwood Borough Council is planning its huge garden suburb.

National Grid has now opened a consultation which will run until Thursday June 16.

There will be another opportunity to comment on the proposals before National Grid submits their plans to the Planning Inspectorate in late 2024.

National Grid says the reinforcement is needed to carry more renewable and low carbon power from offshore wind and interconnectors (sub-sea electricity cables to share electricity between the UK and Europe) as well as new proposed nuclear generation at Sizewell C.

The project is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project which means consent will rest with The Secretary of State.

A spokesperson for Brentwood Borough Council said: “The council are currently reviewing the proposals put forward by National Grid and will respond to the consultation before it closes next month.”

A spokesperson for CEG, the main land promoter at Dunton Hills, said: “This is the first consultation, with further consultation planned next year. CEG will respond to the formal consultation in due course.”

A statement from National Grid said as part of consultation documents said: “East Anglia’s 400 kV electricity transmission network was built in the 1960s. It was built to supply regional demand, centred around Norwich and Ipswich.

With the growth in new energy generation from offshore wind, nuclear power and interconnection with other countries, there will be more electricity connected in East Anglia than the network can currently accommodate. The existing network in East Anglia currently carries around 3,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation.

“Over the next decade we expect more than 15,000 MW of new generation and 4,500 MW of new interconnection to connect in the region. Our existing power lines do not have sufficient capacity to accommodate this new generation. We are already carrying out work to upgrade the existing transmission network in East Anglia.

However, even with these upgrades the network will not be sufficient. East Anglia GREEN is a key part of our wider investment programme to upgrade our electricity transmission network in East Anglia to ensure we meet this future energy transmission demand.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter