Ugly overhead electricity lines on Godlingston Hill near Swanage, are being buried underground as part of a £15 million investment scheme to enhance areas of outstanding natural beauty.
The £850,000 project which stretches across countryside from Ulwell Holiday Park in North Swanage up to Godlingston Hill is expected to be completed by the end of March 2023 and will involve burying one and a half kilometres of power cables.
Part of the planned underground pathway for 1.5 kilometres of wires
Popular tourist base to explore historic area
Work is being carried out by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) as part of its eight year, £15 million project to help rid rural communities of the eyesore poles, and Purbeck locals are being asked to nominate any other areas which could also qualify for the scheme.
Godlingston Hill is the highest point along Nine Barrow Down which is popular with tourists and hikers who walk along the Purbeck Way footpath to explore the countryside between Swanage, Studland, Rempstone and Corfe Castle.
Tourist attractions in the area include Old Harry Rocks, the Agglestone Rock, Rempstone Stone Circle, the Obelisk, Studland Viewpoint and the beaches of Studland.
Godlingston Hill itself has views across the Purbeck Hills and Poole Harbour – even as far as the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on clear days, and has nine Stone Age burial mounds, or barrows, along its chalk ridge.
The landmark was proposed by locals who told SSEN that the whole area would be visually improved if the overhead lines were removed, and after consultation the energy giant agreed.
A view of Godlingston Hill to the north of Swanage on a bright winter’s day
Building a power network fit for the future
Project manager Tim Brooks said:
“My team and I are delighted to be carrying out this substantial project to remove the overhead cables on Godlingston Hill, replacing them with modern and efficient new cables that will be buried underground.
“As well as providing a robust and flexible power supply for those living and working in the area, we will be building a network fit for the future as more people living and visiting Dorset turn to low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles.
“SSEN takes the time to fully consider both local customers and the environment to ensure minimal disruption during its projects, and while the timescale on this particular scheme at just three months is short, the positive impact of the works will be significant for many years to come.”
Diggers are already at work to prepare the site for a three-month transformation
Extra help available during interruption
Although there will be a scheduled power cut in Ulwell on Thursday 9th February 2023, all customers who will be affected should already have been notified, and the works will make power supplies in future much less likely to be interrupted.
The works, which will run until late spring 2023, will bury 1.5 kilometres of power cable, build resilience into supplies for local homes and businesses, and erect a substation that will also provide power for the area’s National Trust offices at Currendon Hill.
Those who require extra help during this time have been offered assistance through SSEN’s priority services register.
Customers are eligible to be included on the free register if they are deaf or hard of hearing, have a disability, live with children under five, are blind or partially sighted, have a chronic illness, use medical equipment which needs electricity to run, are over 60, or temporarily need extra support.
The view towards Agglestone Rock and Poole Harbour draws tourists to the top of Godlingston Hill
The scene from Studland Viewpoint, near the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club
“We want to hear from you”
A SSEN spokesperson said:
“Our overhead infrastructure provides a secure and cost effective way of safely distributing electricity to homes and businesses, but we appreciate that the network can have an impact on the natural environment in officially designated beauty spots.
“This is why SSEN encourages local people and visitors to these areas to share their views and help us by highlighting where investment through this £15 million undergrounding scheme will make the most difference.
“If you know of an Area of Natural Beauty, National Park or Natural Scenic Area that could perhaps be improved by the removal of our overhead lines and wooden poles, we want to hear from you.
“The scheme is open to everyone, and just requires a little information and a photograph of the area including the poles and overhead lines.”
Overhead lines across the New Forest at Burley before locals request their removal
New Forest scheme protected the ponies
Previous projects have included a £750,000 scheme in 2022 to bury six and a half kilometres of overhead network supplying power to Burley in the New Forest, working with the National Park authority to make sure that the wild ponies and other wildlife were not disturbed.
In 2021, a £200,000 project by the Swannery at Abbotsbury in West Dorset replaced two and a half kilometres of overhead cables, poles and conductors with a fully underground cable system.
The New Forest view after the poles were taken down and cables buried
“A pleasure to help provide views of historic site”
Carl James, SSEN’s project manager at Abbotsbury, said:
“It was a pleasure to help provide an uninterrupted view across this historical site that brings so much happiness to both local residents and visitors to the area.”
“When SSEN considers projects like this, our team listens to the needs of local stakeholders and balances those against any potential impact the works could have on the environment, such as the breeding or nesting seasons of birds, animals and insects.
“It’s only when both SSEN and our stakeholders are fully satisfied that we start to plan the programme that will cause the least disruption to all involved and will result in a robust network that suits our customers now and for many years to come.”
- Nominate an area where overhead wires could be removed via the SSEN website