National Grid plans for giant pylons around the Duddon Estuary: where we are now



As part of the planned Moorside nuclear power station project at Sellafield, National Grid PLC (NG) needs to connect it to the grid at Heysham (the North West Coast Connections (NWCC) project).

In May 2017, NG formally announced that it is “pausing work” on the NWCC project. This followed a similar announcement from National Grid’s customer, NuGen (the power station constructor), that it too is “pausing work” on its plans for Moorside, whilst it undertakes “a strategic review to look at its ownership and technology vendor.”

In late 2016, NG revealed final proposals for connecting the planned Moorside power station. They include taking the connection underground along the coast through the western section of the Lake District National Park from Ravenglass to Silecroft but the plans still include the siting of huge pylons around the Duddon Estuary.

Power Without Pylons believes that this is a disaster for the landscape of the estuary and will affect many communities such as The Green, Broughton, Kirkby, Askam, Ireleth and Lindal. We believe the setting of the National Park has to be treated equally to the National Park itself, and we strongly object to the NG proposals.

Over 8,000 people responded to the 2016 consultation, and we believe the vast majority will have stated their objections to giant pylons.

Despite the “pause”, the NG plans have not been abandoned, and are likely to be progressed when the NuGen problems have been resolved. Feasible alternatives do exist – we must continue to press for a pylon-free alternative.

  • The 50 metre (160ft) 400kV pylon is the biggest type of pylon used in the UK. These pylons would be higher than St George’s Church in Millom, a sight that can be seen from many places around the estuary. They are about the same height as Nelson’s Column.
  • The Duddon Estuary is considered by Friends of the Lake District to be within the “setting” of the National Park.

A setting is the area whose landscape character complements that of the national park itself, either through similarity or contrast, and in some way supports or enhances its landscape through views into or out of the national park. The setting is also defined by the intervisibility of the landscapes on either side of the park boundary. So whilst the Lake District National Park has a hard boundary, the landscape outside of this boundary is a very important part of what makes the National Park special.

  • Along a stretch of the beautiful Whicham Valley the 50m pylons would be within 10m of the National Park boundary. Together with the 18 wires between the pylons, this would look like a giant steel fence along the edge of the Park.
  • There is an existing line of small pylons along this route, but the 400kV pylon is about twice the height and at least twice as wide. They would break the skyline in many places where the existing pylons do not. National Grid believes that people will not object to replacement pylons that are twice as high and more than twice as wide. They have described the 400kV pylons as “slightly taller”! This is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland  & Humpty Dumpty:  “a word means just what I choose it to mean”.
    We believe that the existing pylons are an eyesore and should never have been built in this wonderful landscape.
  • They are now proposing two new pylon lines: about 90 giant 50 metre steel pylons and more than 200 Trident 14m wooden poles.
  • View from the A595 into the National Park. Some of the most spectacular landscapes which contribute to the beauty of the Park are across the Duddon Estuary from Kirkby-in-Furness and the A595.  These will be destroyed by National Grid’s giant pylon proposals. The view from the hamlet of Paradise is just one example.  This would be “Paradise Lost”!
  • This project would damage local communities, businesses and tourism. In 2015 there were 43m visitors to Cumbria, who spent £2.4bn. If only a small percentage of this were to be lost, it would justify extra expense on this project.
  • EMFs – High voltage lines bring potential health risks from the effects of electric and magnetic fields (EMFs).  The government’s National Policy Statement for Electricity Networks Infrastructure states: “EMFs can have both direct and indirect effects on human health. The direct effects occur in terms of impacts on the central nervous system resulting in its normal functioning being affected.” Fluorescent tubes under HV lines
  • National Grid PLC is a multi-national private company – it is not a government department. It is completely unacceptable for them to be allowed to ruin our treasured landscapes in this way.
  • Massive disruption to local residents, businesses and visitors during the construction phase
  • ‘Visual Impact Provision’ project – Ofgem has provided £500m to National Grid for the removal of overhead power lines in other areas of natural beauty to reduce the visual impact. This policy should also apply to the Duddon Estuary.
  • National Grid has now agreed to spend much more on putting the connection underground in the National Park. For a small percentage extra, they could solve the whole problem. Our local landscapes are just as valuable. Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar!
  • Offshore. In 2014 NG put forward a completely offshore sub-sea route from Moorside to Heysham. We still believe this is a feasible option. National Grid’s estimate for this option now appears to have almost doubled. We think the justification for this is in doubt.
  • Kirksanton to Rossall/Fleetwood sub-sea cable. Another (partial) offshore option. This would eliminate the pylon route from Kirksanton to Roosecote. A National Grid study shows this to be feasible.
  • Duddon Tunnel. If they can build a tunnel under Morecambe Bay, they can build one under the Duddon Estuary. A National Grid study shows this to be feasible.
  • Kirksanton to Walney sub-sea cable. Another (partial) offshore option. This would eliminate the pylon route from Kirksanton to Roosecote.
  • Underground through the Whicham Valley, around the Duddon Estuary, and across the Furness peninsula.
  • Several other ways of crossing the Duddon Estuary to avoid the use of pylons.

National Grid feels that the pylon route around the estuary is the most cost-effective solution. However, they are prepared to spend millions on burying cables and constructing tunnels elsewhere. We believe that the Duddon Estuary is just as valuable and deserves the same treatment.


The National Grid consultation has now closed, but we will be keeping people informed about progress on this project – look out for news posts on our News page.

The documents are still available on the North West Coast Connections (NWCC) website.
There is a non-technical summary which gives an overview of the project itself.
There is an interactive map which shows the route. If you zoom in far enough, you can see the individual pylons.

Please support Power Without Pylons by emailing and we’ll add you to our emailing list.

We also have two petitions available through links at the top of this page. Please support both.
Keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter – also available through links at the top.
You can find other ways to get involved on our Action page.

Power Without Pylons is a local group formed to campaign for a pylon-free solution to connecting the proposed Moorside nuclear power station to the UK electricity grid.  The group accepts the need for diverse power generation and welcomes the contribution Moorside will make to the local economy but seeks to protect the unique landscapes of the Lake District. More on our About & Contact page

Read more about the issues involved