Hale Common in the New Forest National Park

Hale Common New Forest

The National Trust looks after five commons of international ecological importance in the New Forest. As Europe’s largest conservation charity we work hard to manage our land - to maintain the health and beauty of the countryside and its wildlife. The New Forest is no exception – it is a unique and very special landscape, enjoyed by millions of people every year, and close to the hearts of local people and the Commoners who help manage the land with their grazing livestock.

In 2015, National Grid consulted us on its proposed Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project, and discussions have been ongoing since then.  This is a scheme funded by Ofgem to reduce the visual impact of overhead power lines at four nationally important landscapes in England and Wales, restoring them to their original appearance by burying the cables and removing the pylons. One of these places is the National Trust’s Hale Purlieu in the New Forest. 

For detailed information on National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project in the New Forest please visit the dedicated website

The Trust has not yet made any decision in response to this proposal. In principle we support the undergrounding of power cables, but would review any proposals on their individual merits, considering the potential impact that they might have on the places that we look after. 

We are currently at an investigative stage and are waiting to receive National Grid’s detailed design proposal and environmental impact assessment, so that we can make our own fully-informed decision. We will do this by working with our own specialists to understand the impact on ecology, landscape, archaeology, geology, hydrology, electric and magnetic fields, as well as other important factors. We intend to make an official response in summer 2019. 

Electricity pylons on Hale common
Lowland heath dotted with yellow gorse and featuring a row of electricity pylons.
Electricity pylons on Hale common

Frequently asked questions

When will the National Trust make its final decision on whether or not to allow underground cabling?
In summer 2019 – when National Grid has submitted its detailed design. Final confirmation will be subject to any conditions attached to the planning consent.

Why are you considering landscape and not just ecology?
The National Trust’s core purpose is to protect places of natural beauty and historic interest. This reflects both landscape and ecology, so in the case of National Grid’s VIP project we need to consider both before we can make a decision. 

I've heard the National Trust will be given a cash payment if it allows the cables to be buried.
The National Trust’s main concern is for landscape and conservation, and it is on this basis that our decision will be made.

If the project is granted consent to go ahead, we will be legally obliged to ensure that we are recompensed, under the Charity Commission’s regulations. 

Is this the first such feasibility study to be carried out by National Grid?
No, it is one of four that have been prioritised by National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision project’s independently chaired Stakeholder Advisory Group. The other three sites are in Dorset AONB, Peak District National Park and Snowdonia National Park. They were selected from a shortlist of 12 sections of high voltage line in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks across England and Wales.

You'll find more Q&As on National Grid’s dedicated New Forest website.