Dorset village’s vista restored by SSEN undergrounding project

Before and after images courtesy of Mr and Mrs Bonfanti, Worth Matravers

Residents of a Dorset village have thanked Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) after the distribution operator undergrounded a section of the area’s network, as part of a programme to replace overhead lines in areas that will benefit most from visual improvement.

Located in the historically significant village and civil parish of Worth Matravers, the three-week scheme was part of SSEN’s ongoing £15m investment programme to underground 90km of overhead distribution lines in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and National Scenic Areas across its central southern England and the north of Scotland networks.

With over 630 residents and numerous visitors to the area, Worth Matravers is situated on the Dorset cliffs and was home to the Chain Home radar station during World War II; a system which was instrumental in the development of radar and the allied victory. With SSEN’s £20,000 investment to underground a 125 metre section of overhead power line, along with the removal of five poles and network conductors, those who live in and visit the area now have uninterrupted views across the land and down to the sea.

During July, SSEN’s teams carefully excavated a trench to house the newly undergrounded cable, taking great care to minimise any disruption to the local landscape and the wildlife within it. Now completed, the project has the added benefit of providing a more resilient power supply now and for years to come, as local customers adopt low carbon technologies to achieve their net zero goals.

Carl James, SSEN’s Project Manager said:

“My team and I are delighted to have completed this project in an area with such historic significance; restoring the landscape and clear sea view from Worth Matravers for both local residents and visitors to the area.

“With projects such as this, SSEN listens to the needs of local stakeholders before carefully considering the environment, any potential impact on it and how best to carry out the works. In this case, the works required were minimal in comparison to the beneficial returns, not just in visual terms, but in strengthening the network to enable residents to meet their net zero goals as they move to electric vehicle and heat pump use.”

The Worth Matravers’ site was proposed by local stakeholders as having the potential for visual improvement through the removal of the overhead network, and through subsequent consultation and analysis of the works was approved as part of SSEN’s £15 million undergrounding programme.

Mr and Mrs Bonfanti, residents of Worth Matravers, were instrumental in proposing the works to SSEN. They said:

“Now that the project in Worth Matravers to underground the electricity cables and remove the poles is complete, we’d like to thank SSEN very much for carrying out this project. The results are fantastic and this lovely corner of an area of outstanding natural beauty in Dorset has been considerably enhanced for those of us immediately concerned and also the wider public who come to share in the beauty of the area.

"From our initial contact with SSEN’s Greg Moore to discussing the project, everyone at SSEN has planned this project to ensure success and it could not have been carried out with greater care. Thank you, SSEN for providing the opportunity for the project and for carrying it through to a very successful conclusion in such a professional way.”

While SSEN’s overhead infrastructure provides a secure and cost-effective way of safely distributing electricity to homes and businesses, the distribution operator appreciates that the network can have an impact on the natural environment in officially designated beauty spots.

It’s through this understanding that SSEN encourages local people and visitors to these areas to share their views and assist in highlighting where investment through this £15 million undergrounding scheme will make the most difference.

For further information on the scheme and how you can propose an area to be considered for an undergrounding projects, please go to https://www.ssen.co.uk/undergrounding/.