A Labour candidate has said it would be a "downright lie" to claim that a controversial line of pylons through the Norfolk countryside will not be built. 

Ben Goldsborough, who is standing for the party in South Norfolk, has admitted that he could not block the 114-mile line through the constituency, from Dunston, near Norwich, to Tilbury on the Thames estuary, even if he were elected.

The route passes a number of Norfolk communities and has provoked huge opposition in the area, with critics saying the 45-50m high pylons will have a devastating impact on the countryside.

But the scheme has received the influential backing of Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, who said a future Labour government would support the National Grid's proposal.

Now, Mr Goldsborough said he was realistic about the chances of blocking the project, even if he did not necessarily agree with it.

I am deeply concerned by the proposals which were drawn up by the National Grid under the supervision of the current Conservative government," he said.

"The presumption for pylon first strikes me as a cost-cutting exercise and nothing else.

"East Anglia is extremely lucky to be at the heart of the energy revolution as it will deliver investment and jobs for decades to come. But the pylons are not the way forward.

"I wish I could say right here, right now that I can guarantee that no pylons will be built and that all our ambitions will be achieved. But that would be, at best, optimistic and in reality, a down-right lie. We can’t continue with politicians making empty promises to garner votes."

Ben Goldsborough canvassing in NorfolkBen Goldsborough canvassing in Norfolk (Image: Ben Goldsborough)


Ms Reeves comments about the Norfolk pylon scheme -  that it was "time to get on with it" - angered many local Labour figures.

READ MORE: Norfolk comes out fighting over plans for miles of pylons

Rachel Reeves on a visit to NorfolkRachel Reeves on a visit to Norfolk (Image: Georgie Taylor)

Steve Morphew, leader of the group at Norfolk County Council, said: "I disagree with Ms Reeves' comments. It remains our view that there are better options than pylons.

"I want to see a united front on this issue, and the longer we argue about it the more the price will go up."

The National Grid project is to allow power generated from wind farms off the coast to be used elsewhere in the country.

Critics argue the line should be laid underground or on the seabed, but National Grid say this would add hugely to the cost and would result in higher energy bills.

The scheme has provoked widespread opposition from the area's previous Conservative MPs, South Norfolk Council, Norfolk County Council and Tory candidate for South Norfolk, Poppy Simister-Thomas.

Poppy Simister-ThomasPoppy Simister-Thomas (Image: Poppy Simister-Thomas)


Originally from Red Lodge in Suffolk, Mr Goldsborough recently finished a spell as mayor of the town of Flint, in north Wales, where he was a member of the town council.

He said he hoped to "give clarity" to concerned voters. 

Mr Goldsborough said: "As someone who grew up around here, I care deeply about how the future of our countryside looks and to ensure that our communities have a voice in decisions which will impact them for years to come.

"The disappointing aspect of this whole sorry situation is the secrecy which has surrounded where we go next.

"Where we needed clarity for our villages we got confusion. This is not acceptable and has made people’s lives a misery.

"I feel the National Grid consultation has not been shared widely enough meaning many residents will miss out on the opportunity to have their say. Yet again, we are seeing people’s views muzzled in an opaque consultation process.

"What I can promise is to work my hardest to get the best possible outcome for South Norfolk. I guarantee to stand side-by-side with you on this campaign and try my best to advocate for our shared goal."

Many people living along the pylon route oppose the schemeMany people living along the pylon route oppose the scheme (Image: Newsquest)

He added that he would seek to evaluate the plans in detail, "if elected".

He will be standing against six other candidates at the General Election, including Conservative Poppy Simister-Thomas, Chris Brown for the Liberal Democrats and the Green's Catherine Rowett.

Jason Maguire is standing for the Social Democratic Party, Chris Harrison for Reform UK and Paco Davila is an independent candidate.