Memorandum submitted by the National Grid
1. National Grid owns and operates the high
voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales
comprising the 400 kilovolt and 275 kilovolt transmission system.
Our network includes some 7,000 route kilometres of overhead lines
supported mainly by 22,000 steel lattice transmission towers,
600 kilometres of underground cable and more than 280 substations.
2. National Grid encourages the use of our
existing towers by telecommunications operators, and we have contracts
in place with a number of operators to site their telecoms equipment.
On existing cellular telephony, there are almost 200 installations
to date, with enquiries being processed for a further 900. In
addition, we anticipate that this number will increase considerably,
particularly as those operators who have acquired third generation
licences will need to identify a significant number of additional
non-intrusive sites to create their new networks. A separate subsidiary
"GridCom Ltd", is taking forward our UK telecoms activity.
3. The high voltage transmission network
offers licensed telecommunications operators a valuable opportunity
for siting their antennae and dishes. Significant amenity benefits
arise from siting telecommunications infrastructure on transmission
towers because of the limited visual impact, and also from avoiding
the intrusive proliferation of new telecommunications masts on
the landscape. With some 22,000 transmission towers in England
and Wales, operators can plan their networks on a district-wide
or even national basis.
4. National Grid supports the emphasis being
placed by DETR Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 (PPG8)Telecommunications,
on mast sharing through the use of existing structures. The siting
of telecommunications equipment on transmission towers has a negligible
visual impact. Transmission towers typically range from around
30 to 70 metres in height and the telecoms equipment is mostly
installed at a height of between 20 to 40 metres. The enclosed
show that the telecommunications equipment is to a large extent
visually "lost" within the structure of the tower.
5. Additionally, provided that tower security
is maintained, siting of the equipment cabin near the tower footings,
minimises their visual impact.
6. The current review of DETR's Planning
Policy Guidance Note 8 (PPG8) continues to encourage mast sharing
and installation of telecommunications infrastructure on existing
structures, and we agree that this offers significant community
7. However, we question the proposal in
the DETR's Telecommunications Mast Development Consultation Paper,
to require full planning controls for all telecoms masts, including
where telecoms equipment will be sited on existing structures.
We would urge continued use of permitted development under GPDO
(part 24 of the Town and Country Planning [General Permitted Development]
Order 1995), to actively encourage a presumption towards mast
sharing and the use of existing structures. If however, there
is a wish to continue with some sort of "prior approval"
process for certain types of permitted development, we would suggest
that any such permissions for mast sharing, should be approved
unless there are exceptional circumstances.
8. It is worth noting that high voltage
overhead lines and the siting of transmission towers are subject
to their own rigorous consent process. This includes environmental
impact assessments and extensive consultation with statutory,
non-statutory and local amenity organisations and communities.
The overhead line consent process has already addressed visual
amenity with regard to siting specific towers, and, as such, the
visual impact of the addition of much smaller telecommunications
equipment to this type of structure is therefore extremely limited.
1 This evidence does not touch on issues relating to
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