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‘Communities must see the benefit of new infrastructure’

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Carl Trowell, President of UK Strategic Infrastructure for National Grid

National Grid has set out how industry, government and the regulator can take immediate and decisive action to enable the decarbonisation of the power sector by 2035. The recommendations set out in Delivering for 2035: Upgrading the grid for a secure, clean and affordable energy future, are critical to realise the scale and transformation needed over the next decade and this includes delivering a consistent community benefits framework that ensures local people secure real value for hosting critical net zero infrastructure.

In March this year, the Department for Energy and Net Zero launched its own consultation on community benefits for electricity transmission network infrastructure alongside plans for ‘Powering Up Britain’, the Government’s action plan to achieve energy security and net zero.

The consultation has been welcomed by Carl Trowell, President of UK Strategic Infrastructure for National Grid, who has shared his thoughts on future grid development and community engagement for this RenewableUK blog:

"The World Meteorological Organisation has recently published research which showed the planet is almost certain to experience new record temperatures in the next five years. Global temperatures are likely to rise more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels – the limit countries agreed to try and hold temperature increase at under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Addressing climate change and energy security by generating electricity from the UK’s renewable sources is pressingly urgent. It is therefore heartening to see the progress that these cheaper and cleaner forms of energy like new offshore windfarms are making.

It means that we need to make changes to the network of overhead lines, pylons, cables and other infrastructure that transports electricity around the country, so that every home in the country can be powered by clean energy from these new renewable sources by 2030.

My team and I are focussed on this task, which we call The Great Grid Upgrade – the largest overhaul of the grid in a generation. In the next seven years, we will need to build five times more transmission infrastructure than we have built in the last three decades and with that will contribute to lower energy bills over the long term and making the UK’s energy more self-sufficient. It will provide a catalyst for a green jobs boom and could support up to 130,000 jobs and contribute an estimated £4-11bn (GVA) to Britain’s economy by 2030.

We know this construction will impact the local areas that will host this infrastructure and we believe that those communities should see fair and enduring benefits for doing so. We want to leave a lasting positive impact where we build these critical net zero projects to help those areas thrive and to support a sustainable future.

We therefore welcome the government’s recent consultation and believe that a future community benefit policy should bring consistency, certainty and transparency for communities.

I am pleased that we approach this consultation with a good track record from the pillars of our approach to community benefit and providing a positive legacy, focus on skills and employment, the natural environment and delivering a net zero future.

Recent examples of this activity include the new T-pylons, a section of which was recently energised in Hinkley in Somerset. As part of the project and our aim to provide a net gain in biodiversity, we have planted 2500 trees since the project started 75,000 square metres of woodland and more than 20,000 metres of hedgerow.

At London Power Tunnels we are working in partnership to promote STEM activities in local schools and have already reached 60,000 students through mentoring, careers and skills programmes, and aiming to work with 100,000 by 2026.

Collectively, the opportunities are endless: the UK has the opportunity to deliver greater energy security and lower bills for Britons, as well as generate jobs and economic growth in all parts of the UK."

By Carl Trowell, President of UK Strategic Infrastructure for National Grid.



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