The majority of people impacted by SPENs proposals, whether residents of the region or visitors, are likely to be negatively impacted and for that reason they will either oppose these plans or consider the area less suitable for tourism and recreation and go elsewhere. The end effect will be a number of dis-benefits resulting in a loss of economic value from the area.
Alternatives exist that cost more on a straight capital cost comparison but as a transmission network infrastructure may be in place for up to 100 years or more – blighting the region for generations to come – there needs to be greater flexibility for examining alternatives using life-cycle costs and discounted cash flow methods.
Of the two alternatives and their variants presented in this section of the website to mitigate the impact of this necessary project, both of which result in additional capital expenditure of around £500m, one is strategic in so far as it builds on plans for an interconnected European sub-sea electricity. The other is simply a form of mitigation making use of undergrounding for part of the route and elsewhere large towers and OHLs will remain visible for several km either side of the transmission network that will lessen the visual amenity although hopefully avoid areas of habitation.
The cost of these mitigation measures are fractional to the average consumer; adding around two thirds of 1% to annual electricity bills. Furthermore, consumer WTP has been demonstrated to be firmly in favour of mitigating the loss in visual amenity from new infrastructure for which consumers are willing to pay, up to a certain level.
SPEN has an allowance that can be used towards implementing such measures and while consumer WTP may constrain undergrounding to a total of 40km of 400kV OHL, it is possible that with a degree of flexibility and innovation on SPENs part their allowance could be increased to satisfy the strategic needs of installing a sub-sea interconnector.