‘SIGNIFICANT’ progress is being made on a multi-million pound scheme which has resulted in pylons being removed from a Barnsley beauty spot in a ‘first-of-its-kind’ project to boost biodiversity.
The £43m work at Dunford Bridge - called Going Underground - has seen the removal of existing high-voltage electricity transmission infrastructure, which has been in place since the 1960s, and is being carried out by the National Grid.
Seven pylons were dismantled in the summer and work has continued over the winter to channel 1.5km of power cables underground.
The Chronicle can now reveal the project is entering its final phase, with improvements being carried out to the temporarily-closed Dunford Bridge car park.
The work will involve enhancing and restoring the car park to its full capacity and includes resurfacing, marking new parking bays, landscaping, new planting, creating a horsebox parking area and restoring the popular picnic area.
A National Grid spokesperson said: “The team has now successfully removed all seven pylons and 1.5km of overhead electricity line to transform the Dark Peak landscape.
“The complex construction and engineering programme has involved placing new cables below the ground, with world-leading teams brought in for each stage of the project from cable jointing to pylon removal.
“We are continuing to progress with the final stages of our project which includes the reinstatement of the land where we’ve been working.
“We will be safely delivering loads of topsoil down the Trans Pennine Trail - this material is being used for the landscaping and restoration works around the new sealing end compound in Wogden Foot.
“Environmental sustainability has been key to National Grid’s plans, and the project is among the first in the UK to include biodiversity net gain over 25 years.
“The team has delivered a net gain of 18 per cent, while the latest figures show that 99.96 per cent of construction-related waste has been diverted from landfill.
“Our work to enhance biodiversity to date has included tree thinning and ground flora improvements, along with progressing our commitment to planting 6,000 new, locally sourced native trees at other nearby locations.”
Senior project manager Leanne Evans added: “There’s been a hive of activity in Dunford Bridge since the start of the year as we’ve been installing, connecting and energising the cables that carry electricity underneath the Trans Pennine Trail.
“We’ve been taking the opportunity to welcome visitors to the project to see our work in action, from Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates to local primary schools.
“We have also been grateful for the support and guidance of Coun Chris Lamb and officers from Barnsley Council throughout the project, which has helped us ensure we maximise its benefit to the local community.”
Campaigners who initially fought against the scheme before planning consent was awarded by the council said the intrusive works would have a knock-on impact on wildlife.
However, Ms Cates praised the work and said the scheme will boost the habitat and its appearance.
She said: “I’m pleased that our constituency has been recognised for its natural beauty and that it’s receiving the attention it needs.
“It’s been great to hear that the project is having a positive impact on both the local community and environment.
“The work will result in much-improved biodiversity by providing new habitats for rare and endangered species.”