The energy company has lodged a planning application to Wiltshire Council for the work north of Devizes. It follows more than three years of engagement with local communities, businesses and stakeholders. National Grid has also made a submission to industry regulator Ofgem for funding of the project.

The aim of the project is to enhance the landscape in the stretch of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to the north of Devizes. It is part of National Grid’s Visual Impact Provision (VIP) project to reduce the visual impact of existing high-voltage power lines in protected areas in England and Wales.

Since the project began in 2019, National Grid has been working with stakeholders to develop its proposals, including Natural England, Wiltshire Council, Historic England, North Wessex Downs AONB Partnership, and the town and community councils.

Chris Baines, chair of the VIP project’s national independent Stakeholder Advisory Group, said the North Wessex Downs project was one of five proposed major projects under the VIP scheme.

“The VIP Project is the first time that high-voltage overhead transmission lines have been removed and placed underground purely to reduce their visual impact and enhance a beautiful landscape,” he said.

If the application is approved, work on the project will start on site this year and be completed in 2026.

Last year Hochtief UK was awarded a £207m (US$280m) contract as part of the VIP project in Eryri National Park (formerly Snowdonia) in Wales. It involves removing 10 pylons and 3km of overhead power lines.

The seven-year project will require the construction of two shafts and a 3.4km tunnel to carry electricity under the Dwyryd Estuary. The work is scheduled for completion in 2029.