North Shropshire 132k Reinforcement Project

Shropshire, UK

Gillespies was commissioned by SP Energy Networks to assemble and coordinate a multidisciplinary team of environmental consultants to prepare the supporting information for an application for DCO for a new 132kV overhead line between Oswestry and Wem.

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This project was a response to the need to reinforce North Shropshire’s distribution network. Our initial role as lead consultant was to identify and comparatively appraise a number of route options, which culminated in the selection of a preferred route. Comprising a 20km wood pole overhead line extending between Oswestry and Wem substations, this was considered to give rise to the least likely environmental effects whilst being technically and economically viable. The routing process was undertaken using SP Manweb’s approach to routeing. This approach was developed with input from Gillespies’ landscape architects and builds on the principles set out in the Holford Rules.

Gillespies subsequently worked closely with SP Manweb’s engineers and land agents to refine and the preferred route using the output of detailed site and technical surveys. This required liaison with stakeholders, the public and landowners. Various iterations to the route were developed and assessed before a proposed route was agreed which then progressed to formal EIA and preparation of a DCO application.

In addition to coordinating all environmental disciplines required for the EIA, Gillespies produced the landscape and visual assessment and planning chapters, all visualisations, graphics and GIS mapping. We subsequently authored or provided input to the various documents required for the DCO application and hearing process. Gillespies also provided specialist planning and expert witness advice at the DCO hearings. The project was robust, coordinated and produced within the required timeframes. The application for a DCO was consented in early 2020.