Priory Pylon Campaigners Meet Electricity Bosses

Ambitious project is backed by Wimbledon MP

Local campaigners met National Grid staff as part of a campaign for the removal of the electricity pylons which tower over the historic Merton Priory site.

The group of senior Conservative policiticians said the recent international recognition for the landmark, which is mostly hidden beneath Merantun Way, has given them momentum in their campaign.

But while National Grid were keen to hear more about the vision for Merton Priory as well as the Wandle Valley, there are many hurdles to be overcome.

The meeting, which took place on site at Merton Priory itself included Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, London Assembly Member Richard Tracey and Conservative councillors Samantha George, Richard Chellew and Diane Neil Mills, as well as two senior representatives from National Grid.     

Mr Hammond said after the meeting: "I was pleased to be able to set up this meeting. It was undoubtedly a useful initial exchange of views. I am delighted to support this ambitious project for the Merton Priory and the Wandle Valley Regional Park, which can only enhance Wimbledon and Merton. If it is to succeed we will need to work with National Grid and today we have identified some of the opportunities and challenges."

Cllr Samantha George, Conservative Culture Spokesman added: "Local Conservatives are determined to build on the momentum gained from the exciting developments earlier this year when Merton Priory was recommended to apply for inclusion on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. There's no doubt this has strengthened our case for getting rid of the pylons that are such an eyesore in this area."

A National Grid spokesman said for them to support any proposal to relocate or bury the lines, the project would have to directly facilitate a major development of national significance; not compromise the security of the electricity supply; be technically feasible and with the costs borne by the project's promoter.

He said: "National Grid welcomed the opportunity to hear more about the vision for Merton Priory and Wandle Valley Regional Park.

"We explained that the overhead power line that passes through Merton is the 275,000 volt Beddington to Wimbledon line, which is part of the National Grid high-voltage electricity transmission network and has an important role in keeping the lights on in south London.

"National Grid is obliged under the Electricity Act 1989 to develop and maintain its electricity transmission system in an efficient, coordinated and economic manner. National Grid's approach is always to seek to retain its existing high voltage overhead lines in situ. Any proposals to alter existing overhead lines will therefore require special justification. There are significant technical, cost and environmental challenges associated with the relocation or undergrounding of high voltage overhead lines.

"National Grid would support proposals for the relocation or undergrounding of existing lines only where the developer can demonstrate that the proposal will directly facilitate a major development or infrastructure project of national importance, that it will not compromise the security of electricity supply, that it is technically feasible and that the cost will be borne fully by the promoter."

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May 20, 2011