Five projects selected for Landscape Enhancement Initiative funding
Five projects intended to help Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks across England and Wales deliver small-scale landscape projects to reduce the visual impact of existing National Grid overhead electricity transmission lines have been selected to be taken forward to receive funding through the Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI).
The LEI, which was unveiled in May 2016, aims to provide up to £24 million over six years. The scheme is part of the Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project which will make use of a £500 million allowance made available by Ofgem until 2021. National Grid is also progressing plans under this allowance to replace existing overhead transmission lines with underground cables in four protected landscapes, including Dorset AONB, New Forest National Park, Peak District National Park and Snowdonia National Park.
Following the launch of the LEI, the 30 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks that contain National Grid electricity infrastructure were invited to submit applications for individual, small-scale projects up to the value of £200,000.
An independently-chaired approvals panel consisting of experts from Cadw, Historic England, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales was invited to review the applications, and in August 2016, five projects were recommended to be taken forward to receive funding from the LEI.
These applications came from the High Weald AONB, North York Moors National Park, Peak District National Park and Snowdonia National Park.
While work to finalise the proposals put forward for two of these projects is still ongoing, Ofgem has now confirmed it is satisfied with three of the applications and the approvals process for these projects has now moved into its final stage. A 28-day license consultation period on the modification of National Grid’s license to enable it to release the funding required for the LEI projects has recently been concluded, and a decision is expected imminently.
The second window of applications for funding through the LEI closed at the end of October 2016, at which point ten expressions of interest had been received from eight areas across the UK, including four AONBs and four National Parks. Seven of these projects met the criteria for LEI funding and were invited to submit applications. The LEI Approvals Panel will meet in May 2017 to review the applications received ahead of a submission being made to Ofgem.
The next window for expressions of interest will be open in August 2017.