Replacing Pylons With Buried Cables

A Campaign by Residents of the Norman Bocage

It was announced in 2004 that yet another line of giant pylons (400,000 volts) was being planned for Normandy. The proposed route would cross the environmentally sensitive Norman Bocage, linking a new nuclear reactor at Flamanville (near the tip of the Cherbourg peninsula) with Laval in the south of Normandy.

Almost immediately a local amenity group was formed — Respecter Le Bocage – whose aim was to persuade Électricité de France (EDF) and the network operators (RTE) to bury their cables. Our argument was that overhead cables were no longer the most economic option and that by burying them the potential health risks for humans and livestock would be greatly reduced. Furthermore, the association argued, burying the cables would cause far less damage to an already very fragile environment. Additionally, visible cables would damage prospects of developing tourism in an area whose only major industry is agriculture.

Respecter Le Bocage has made it clear that it does not oppose nuclear reactors and entirely accepts that the distribution of electricity is essential to the economic needs of France. It does not doubt that the line must pass through the Bocage. However, since France is a world leader in the manufacture of underground cabling and medical research asserts that overhead cables present a measurable potential risk of cancer in children – as well as a risk to livestock – Respecter Le Bocage felt it had no alternative but to call on EDF and RTE for a change in policy.

Within months of forming Respecter Le Bocage, most local communes, as well as many national and regional elected representatives, had expressed their support for the campaign.

In autumn 2005 the whole issue was due for debate at an official enquiry which was originally intended to determine the route to be taken by giant overhead pylons. Respecter Le Bocage hopes the debate will now be as much about the means of transport as the route the cables should take.

Respecter Le Bocage

© (2004) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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Christopher Long

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