A competition to create an electricity pylon fit for the 21st century has been launched by the government

Pylon makeover

The National Grid and the Department of Energy and Climate Change want to see a fresh blueprint for pylons to carry high-voltage cables across hundreds of miles of British countryside.

The new network is needed to serve the ten-fold growth in electricity generated by wind turbines and up to ten proposed nuclear plants. The 88,000 lattice tower pylons that currently dominate our skyline were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield in 1927 and are now deemed unsuitable to carry higher loads.

The government hopes that, as well as meeting practical requirements, an attractive, modern design could help to defuse public opposition to the installation of the new network.

While opponents are calling for power cables to be buried, the National Grid says this costs ten times more than using overhead solutions. Executive director Nick Winser said: “The pylon has served the nation well, but new technologies and materials mean there may now be opportunities for new designs.”

The competition, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), closes on 12 July and the winner will be announced in October. For more information, visit the Pylon competition website. The Pylon Appreciation Society – for transmission tower enthusiasts – may also be of interest.

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