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Village gets power and broadband overhaul – and a new skyline

The electricity, phone and broadband services at a popular North Devon coastal village have been transformed and the skyline improved after a major project by us and Open Reach.

The two companies worked together to upgrade their services at the same time to minimise disruption for the residents of Mortehoe, which is part of the North Devon Coast National Landscape (NDCNL).

We removed 14 ageing electricity poles and 650m of overhead lines and replaced them with new underground high voltage cables and ground-mounted transformers as part of a £100,000 investment.

At the same time seven other poles used for telecommunications were removed by Open Reach and replaced with underground fibre cables providing a faster broadband service for 242 properties.

Another five electricity poles which hosted telecommunications equipment were also taken down in a collaborative project between the companies to minimise disruption for the community while improving the visual appeal of the heritage coast. Five other poles with street lighting and telecoms were also replaced.

Below: overhead cables visible on the Mortehoe skyline

The view is now improved:

Andrew Manning, National Grid’s Operations Manager for North Devon, said: “Mortehoe now has a more robust electricity network that is no longer exposed to harsh weather, enabling us to maintain supplies during faults and maintenance work.

“The improvements will enable residents to connect car chargers, battery storage and heat pumps, while enjoying a stunning landscape without poles and overhead lines.

“Everyone working together meant this project was delivered very efficiently with minimal disruption, providing lasting benefits for the community.”

Mortehoe resident Allan Green, who has campaigned for the work, said: “Removing 31 poles will dramatically improve the landscape not only for those of us who live here but the thousands of holidaymakers who visit.

“The installation of fibre (FTTP) to 242 homes and businesses is going to make a big difference to everyone who lives, visits or runs a business here which is all as important as improving the local landscape.

“Bringing together so many organisations and people who have helped make this project happen has not been easy but I’ve had great help and the support of over 200 people from the local community, the NDCNL, National Grid, Open Reach, and our former local MP Selaine Saxby.”

The steep coastal landscape presented significant challenges for engineers who had to remove the poles with specialist cranes while at the same time protecting the biodiversity of this sensitive area. Helicopters were originally used to erect some poles but using the aircraft wasn’t an option this time as buildings have since sprung up nearby.

Engineers also faced tight timescales as opportunities to do the work were also limited by the need to avoid disruption at peak holiday times when many tourists visit the area.

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