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Peak District undergrounding project improves views and protects wildlife

An undergrounding project is taking place in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) in the Peak District, benefitting views along a popular route for walkers and cyclists, while protecting the local newt habitat. 

A stretch of the Tissington Trail close to the village of Biggin in Derbyshire will see poles and overhead lines disappear, to be replaced by underground cables.

In all, 220m of HV line and 200m of LV line will be removed along with five wooden HV poles and four LV poles, as part of an £180,000 investment.

The project will not only improve the visual impact of the area for visitors, but will also boost the security of the electricity network for customers in Biggin.

The challenge for planners was to devise a scheme that would not only please local people, but also protect the local newt population. The proposed route for the new underground cable runs adjacent to three ponds, all of which are home to great crested newts - a protected species.

Because of this, it was necessary to obtain an ecologist’s report and advice on how best to protect the animals and their habitat before the diggers moved in.

Planner Mark Gell said: “The biggest challenge has been to accommodate the newts, but we have now got a method statement from the ecologist which outlines what we need to do during the excavation to protect their habitat.”

And it is not only the newts whose needs are being carefully considered. The project was originally triggered by a desire to improve the visual appearance of the AONB - but has been welcomed by WPD as an opportunity to enhance the security of the network.

As a result, the project will include the installation of a new ground-mounted substation – to replace an existing pole-mounted transformer - and 520m of additional HV cable to boost network reliability for 200 customers in Biggin.

The introduction of an interconnector means that power can be restored more quickly to customers on a spur who will now be reconnected using switching.

Mark added: “Everybody cycling past was literally looking down onto the line, but that will no longer be the case. The Peak District National Park will get something out of it and we are getting a more secure network so that means it is good for everyone, even the newts!”

This project follows an earlier phase in which 2.5kms of overhead line at Hurdlow on the High Peak trail were undergrounded. There are already plans for further work at Pike Hall.

Green fields and wild flowersBiggin before

AONB fieldsBiggin after

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