RESIDENTS and walkers using footpaths around the picturesque village of Cocking now have a clearer, better view of the South Downs above them, thanks to a £25,500 scheme by Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD) to remove nearby overhead power lines.
Cocking which sits in the heart of the South Downs National Park, is popular with walkers and when people in the area were asked to suggest sensitive landscapes that would benefit from power lines being taken down, its 11th-century church was nominated by members of the South Downs Society.
Electricity board engineers have recently completed the three month project to replace overhead electricity lines from land near the picturesque church, which nestles at the foot of the Downs, with replacement underground cables.
Three spans of power lines have been taken down by the engineers along with four tall wooden poles.
Project manager Chris Sutton from SEPD said: “This is a lovely part of the South Downs with fantastic views across the countryside.
“The field near the church and war memorial was criss-crossed by a number of overhead power lines that dated back to the 1960s.
“Now we’ve taken them down, it looks a lot more in keeping with the historic church and gives a clearer view for walkers using the popular footpath that runs nearby.”
Andy Beattie, people and places manager for the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “It’s great to see Southern Electric Power Distribution taking advantage of this funding to improve the spectacular landscapes of the South Downs National Park.
“This is one of three schemes scheduled for areas in the South Downs National Park over the next two years and we hope that we’ll be able to announce two more in the very near future.”
Steve Ankers, policy officer of the South Downs Society, said this week: “As the Friends group for this national park, we are of course delighted to see programmes like this one.
“Projects such as this bring such obvious benefits to the national park landscape.
“We put forward the scheme for Cocking villagers and we are delighted to see it come to fruition. It has been an excellent day!”
The project to remove the overhead electricity lines was funded by a special allowance, granted to Southern Electric Power Distribution by industry regulator Ofgem to invest in projects to place power lines underground in AONBs and National Parks in central southern England.
Replacement underground electricity cables were carefully buried in the surrounding fields and once they were powered up, engineers were able to take down the overhead lines.