The Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project in the North Wessex Downs National Landscape (formerly AONB) will reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s overhead line to the north of the market town of Devizes.

National Grid has plans to replace 4.6km of overhead electricity line and 13 pylons with underground cable in the North Wessex Downs National Landscape.

This major engineering project will involve a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the skyline in Devizes, including spectacular views from the Millennium White Horse.

The world-leading scheme is one of only a handful of stakeholder-led enhancement initiatives to have been selected in National Landscapes (AONBs) and National Parks in England and Wales as part of the Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project.

It represents a major opportunity to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and environmental heritage of this magnificent Wiltshire landscape.

The section of overhead line

The section of overhead line is part of the 400kV electricity route connecting Bramley and Melksham 400kV substations. It is an integral part of the National Electricity Transmission System connecting the south west and south east of England.

Why was this section selected?

This section of line which runs to the north of Devizes was identified by an independent landscape study as having some of the greatest visual impacts on the landscape anywhere in England or Wales.

This is due largely to its elevated position on the foot of the Scarp where the overhead line is clearly visible from the panoramic views and low-lying villages. The line is also near a popular spot for walkers and the Devizes Millennium White Horse.

Its presence negatively affects the experience of visitors who come to the area to walk and enjoy the scenery, as well as those travelling on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Our work in Devizes so far

In June 2019 the project Stakeholder Reference Group met for the first time. The group, consisting of local technical experts, was introduced to our plans and given the opportunity to voice their initial thoughts and let us know of anything we should consider before progressing any further. We’ve since met every six months to provide regular updates about our progress to members.

Throughout 2019 and 2020 we also held meetings (both actual and virtual) with members and officers from Wiltshire Council and Devizes Town Council, as well as Bromham Parish Council, Rowde Parish Council and Bishops Cannings Parish Council.

We’ve additionally met with a range of special interest groups especially those focusing on archaeology, ecology and countryside access.

We hosted virtual public information events in early 2021 (during Covid-19 restrictions) where members of the public were able to view the project plans online and ask questions to representatives from the project team.

During the autumn of 2021, a series of presentations was given to Devizes Town Council and the parishes of Rowde, Bromham and Bishops Cannings. Online and face-to-face briefings
were also provided to groups including Wiltshire Ramblers and the Devizes Area Board.  The VIP team took a stall for consecutive weeks in the very popular Devizes market, speaking to over 200 members of the public about the plans.

In spring 2023 we submitted a planning application for the project, as well as to the industry regulator Ofgem for the funding of the project, following more than three years of engagement with local groups, stakeholders and parish councils.

Planning permission was granted in autumn 2023, with construction work getting underway in early 2024.

Countryside sunset

Contact us

If you or your organisation would like further information, please get in touch:

Email: [email protected]

Call: 0330 134 0051