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£200,000 makeover for Longdendale Valley trails to increase accessibility

Friday 16 June 2017

Views and access in the Longdendale will be improved with a grant from National GridWalkers, cyclists and horse riders in the Longdendale Valley can look forward to more beautiful views and greater levels of accessibility in the coming years. Three national trails are set to receive an upgrade courtesy of a £200,000 grant secured by the Peak District National Park Authority to help enhance access by creating disabled friendly circular routes and to reduce the visual impact of electricity transmission lines running through the valley.

The grant has been allocated as part of National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI), which has set aside up to £24 million to support small-scale landscape projects in the 30 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks across England and Wales that contain existing National Grid electricity infrastructure.

Over a three year period, work will be carried out along three popular national trails – the Pennine Way, the Pennine Bridleway and the Trans-Pennine Trail – to reduce the visual effects of electricity pylons in the Longdendale Valley.  The funds will also enable the Peak District National Park Authority to enhance access along the valley, particularly for users with a disability and for horse riders.

To refocus views away from the pylons, a number of new circular routes will be established as an alternative to the existing routes that follow the transmission line. Work will also be carried out to screen the line, including selective planting of locally-appropriate tree and shrub species, selective vegetation clearance and management and new seating areas, which will be specially designed to ensure they are inclusive for visitors with disabilities.

Rob Meetham, landscape architect, for the Peak District National Park, said: “As the UK’s original national park, the Peak District National Park is world-renowned for its spectacular scenery and beautiful landscapes, and we are pleased to have the opportunity through the support of the Landscape Enhancement Initiative to improve the access and enhance the experience for all those wanting to get out and explore the area.

“These improvements will provide opportunities for local people and visitors alike to experience and enjoy a more natural and wild landscape. We hope that our new disabled-accessible circular routes will enable new people to visit the area and experience the beautiful views for which the Longdendale Valley is known.”

The LEI is part of the Visual Impact Provision project, which will make use of a £500 million allowance made available by Ofgem until 2021. The North York Moors National Park and High Weald AONB also received funding in this round of awards. In addition, National Grid is progressing plans under this allowance to replace existing overhead lines with underground cables in four protected landscapes.*

Environmentalist and broadcaster Chris Baines, who chairs the Visual Impact Provision project’s national Stakeholder Advisory Group, said: “Through the LEI we hope to make a positive contribution towards preserving and enhancing the natural beauty, landscape character, cultural heritage, wildlife and biodiversity in England and Wales’ most precious landscapes.

“It was pleasing to see applications for the funding from so many inspiring projects. I look forward to watching their progress as they work to help to make these beautiful areas even more enjoyable to visit.”

In June 2017, the next round of the LEI will be open for expressions of interest. Further information on who can apply and how to do it can be found at lei.nationalgrid.com.

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