Pylon of the Month - May 2011


It has been another busy month and I was wondering whether to skip a month (again), but then events took a rather interesting turn when Pylon of the Month was mentioned on the PM programme on BBC Radio 4.  The average number of page views per day is about 36, but yesterday (24th May) I managed to reach 1250!  So this post is rather closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but here goes anyway........

This pylon is another one sent in by a fan of the website and it was taken in St Anton whilst on a skiing holiday.  For those looking to track it down, my corespondent further added that "it is on the
side of the piste where the 2001 Downhill Skiing World Championships took place".  As you might expect for such a mountainous country, Austria produces over 50% of its power from hydropower.  If you want more details than that (and I know you do really) then I have discovered energy statistics heaven via the International Energy Agency (IEA) website.  In 2008 Austria produced 40678 GWh of hydroelectricity out of a total production of 67101GWh.  Look here if this has whetted your appetite.

Pylons have been much in the news recently with the launch of a competition to design the pylons of the future.  As the Guardian headline put it, "National Grid hopes opposition to new electricity pylons can be headed off with 'more visually acceptable' design".  There are references to two pylon competitions covered previously on Pylon of the Month in Iceland and ItalyHugh Duttton, the designer who won the Italian competition, had this to say about the current design:

"Traditional pylons are the very symbol of insensitive intervention of mankind on the landscape," he said. "These industrial soldiers that march across the countryside, galvanised steel trellis towers, are certainly optimal and efficient structures, but lack poetry."

Lets hope that the competition results in a design that makes them more acceptable, but it is difficult to seee opposition going away completely.  As in so many areas of life, there is a degree of hypocrisy or 'wanting our cake and eating it' about the arguments.  We want the electricity carried by the pylons without being willing to pay the price in terms of visual impact.  But burying all the cables would be far too expensive, although (as long as someone else is paying) this remains a popular option in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  I await the results of the competition when they are announced in October.