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Environmental Valuation in Developed Countries

Case Studies

Edited by David Pearce

This is the second of two volumes of case studies that illustrate how environmental economists place values on environmental assets and on the flows of goods and services generated by those assets. This important book assembles studies that discuss broad areas of application of economic valuation – from amenity and pollution through to water and health risks, from forestry to green urban space. In this, his last book, the late David Pearce brought together leading European experts, contributors to some two dozen case studies exploring the frontiers of economic valuation of natural resources and environmental amenity in the developed world.
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Chapter 10: Underground or Overground? Measuring the Visual Disamenity from Overhead Electricity Transmission Lines

Giles Atkinson, Brett Day and Susana Mourato


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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