Surveys and site set up

Archaeological surveys and site set up work in January 2024 mark start of construction

Following several years of working closely with local stakeholders and the community as we’ve developed our proposals and with planning consent now secured earlier this year, it’s now time for us to get to work on this unique project in the North Wessex Downs National Landscape.

Between now and 2026 we’ll be working with our main contractor Balfour Beatty to install the underground cables and transform the skyline around Devizes by replacing 4.6km of overhead line and 13 pylons to the north of Devizes with underground cables. It’s a significant engineering challenge, but we will seek to minimise disruption wherever possible.

Archaeological surveys

Before we begin the main construction work on the project, there are a number of surveys and preparatory work we need to undertake.

National Grid has been working closely with Wiltshire Council and Historic England in developing the project plans and agreed that thorough archaeological surveys will be carried out prior to construction.

We have appointed Wessex Archaeology to conduct these archaeological works, which will begin from Tuesday 2 January 2024 and are expected to continue until the end of March 2024.

This work will involve using a digger to excavate open trenches between 2,500m2 – 30,000m2 in a number of locations along the length of the route. Once the machines have removed the topsoil, expert archaeologists working for us will excavate each trench by hand to locate and assess any archaeology present.

After the trench has been investigated by the archaeologists – and if anything of interest is recorded – it will be covered over and returned to its former state.  Should any significant finds be made, we will work with the County Archaeologist and Historic England to work out the best way to manage them – including sharing the information with the public if appropriate.

Please note that given that these survey works are taking place before the main site area is established, some of the vehicles and machines required for this essential work will need to temporarily use Conscience Lane for around five weeks from mid-February to late-March to access the site.

Here, site traffic will be kept to a minimum and involve some initial deliveries of steel mats (which will be laid at field entrances), machinery and welfare units.  Each day there will be around four or five site vehicles each morning and evening for transporting the archaeology teams, as well as a weekly service for the welfare unit.

Construction update

Alongside the initial preparation and survey work, the main programme of construction work will be getting underway on site in the new year.

You’re likely to see increasing numbers of our teams out and about on site for the first few weeks of the year, with the main site establishment starting from early March.

This site set up work will include the creation of a construction compound and necessary site access that all of our vehicles and teams will be using to get to areas where we’ll be working.

Keeping in touch

Throughout construction National Grid and Balfour Beatty will continue to work with organisations including the North Wessex Downs National Landscape, Wiltshire Council, and the local parish councils to ensure any disruption to local residents is minimised.

We would like to reassure you that together with our contractors we will work to ensure any disruption to local residents is minimised.

If you have any questions about the project or the works taking place, please contact the team by emailing [email protected] or calling 0330 134 0051 (and leaving a message if you are prompted).