§ Sir Dudley Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will institute a feasibility study in co-operation with the electricity industry with a view to improving the overhead cable system and making it less vulnerable, particularly in rural areas, to severe snow and storm conditions.
§ Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
A joint Department-electricity supply industry panel of inquiry chaired by the Department's chief engineering inspector was set up in January 1982 to investigate the adequacy, and so on, of overhead electricity lines following the very severe snow storms in December 1981 and January 1982 which seriously affected Wales and the west of England. As a result a programme of improvements was put in hand costing over £100 million, which included the strengthening of the more vulnerable overhead lines and closer control of tree growth. The snowstorm which affected the midlands area in December 1990 was exceptional, but the East Midlands Electricity company—the worst affected —is carrying out a review of the event and the Department's engineering inspectorate is monitoring this review.