Ashtead Rye Meadows Overhead Power Cables - 2012-7
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).
Fig1 2013 Power Cables over Rye Meadows (yellow outline) 11kV are Cyan, 33kV are Red
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.
Fig2 Centenary Field - BEFORE 11kV Cable Removal (showing LP6a and LP5 and cables to LP6b) (compare with Fig4)
In mid-2016 Peter found out that, unknown to our contact at UKPN, the first contractor had withdrawn.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.
Fig3 2017 View showing remaining 11kV (Cyan). 7 Poles and overhead cables from LP2 to LP6a were removed from Rye Meadows
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 figures 3 and 4).
Fig4 Centenary Field – AFTER 11kV overhead cable removal by UKPN was completed in April 2017 (from the same viewing spot as in Fig2)
Now we are campaigning to have as much as possible of the 33kV line (red in Fig3) removed or buried.
The 33kV Tower (HP3) in Jack Adams Field (see Fig5) 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.
Fig5 12 April 2017 33kV Tower in the Preston Grove field (recently renamed Jack Adams) beside the Rye Brook Footpath 24 Footbridge
The 33kV tower shown below (HP4 in Fig3) stands in Fraudings (see Fig6) 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.
Fig6 12 April 2017 33kV Tower in Fraudings Field (North of Fairholme Crescent)
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)