Local People with National Objectives
Toward the end of 2009, National Grid started a project to upgrade the transmission network for electricity throughout Britain. As part of this project they publicised plans to build a new and additional string of pylons complete with power lines from Bramford, near Ipswich, Suffolk to the Twinstead Tee, just over the border in Essex.
Like the people all along the route, the people of the Stour Valley, at the Essex end of the proposed pylon corridors were outraged, seeing it as appalling for the energy industry to blight a landscape made famous by important landscape painters such as Thomas Gainsborough.
We think it understandable that the group these people set up to research and present their case for alternatives to yet more ugly pylons was named Stour Valley Underground or SVU. But the group members quickly realised that they shared their objectives with people throughout the area effected by National Grid’s proposals, from the Stour Valley and Gainsborough Country, through the Dedham Vale and Constable Country and on through the villages all the way through Hintlesham to Bramford near Ipswich.
This however proved to be far from the totality of the effected area as our research expanded to look at the prospect of a tidal wave of pylon building across the whole of the East of England.
SVU built relationships with other groups with similar objectives which resulted in the formation of a coalition of action groups and countryside organisations with a steering group to co-ordinate their collective activities.
The Twinstead Tee, the pylon that marks one end of the connection project. It is located in a marsh area that was an ancient hopgrounds for the surrounding communities in Henny, near Twinstead, Essex. As the image shows, this pylon is set beside a nature reserve.
A few years ago, this area was shoulder high in primitive mares tail plants, draped over with wild hops. Now it is a sterile area of crushed granite for the benefit of National Grid.
Latterly, we realised that this is in fact a National issue with ramifications for the entire country and this has lead to starting 2011 with joint action by groups right across the country.