Edited by David Pearce
Chapter 10: Underground or Overground? Measuring the Visual Disamenity from Overhead Electricity Transmission Lines
Giles Atkinson, Brett Day and Susana Mourato INTRODUCTION The statutory obligation to provide households in the United Kingdom (UK) with electricity necessitates the ongoing construction of high-voltage transmission lines (HVTLs) used to transmit electric power over relatively long distances, usually from a central generating station to main substations. Typically, HVTLs are carried overhead suspended from steel lattice towers commonly known as ‘pylons’. Alternatively it is possible, though costly, to lay such cables underground. The construction of new HVTLs has important implications for the visual amenity of landscapes in rural and urban areas. Proposals to construct new HVTLs have typically been scrutinized within the UK planning system and a recent development within this process has been a demand from local authorities, environmental and other groups for pylon designs that are less visually intrusive than the familiar lattice towers or for the undergrounding of HVTLs. A reasonable response to such demands would be to actually evaluate the strength of public preferences for these alternatives. Moreover, ﬁnding out how much households prefer alternatives would furnish decision-makers with information about the value of the beneﬁts that households enjoy from having a new HVTL constructed using a new tower design or from transmission lines being placed under the ground. This would make it possible to state whether the beneﬁts of the action exceed its costs. One way of valuing these beneﬁts is to use stated preference techniques such as contingent valuation (CV), a survey-based method that elicits preferences, in monetary terms, for...
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