National Grid’s high wire act over the River Tyne


Engineers scaling two 390ft pylons to raise the height of the power line across the Tyne

23 Jun 2017

Engineers are scaling the dizzying heights of two of the country’s tallest pylons to raise the height of a power line to allow ships carrying wind turbine parts to pass safely underneath.

They are climbing the two 390ft towers which stand either side of the River Tyne to change the position of equipment which carries the weight of the wires which span the river crossing.

The work has been six months in the planning and a number of new tools and techniques have been developed to allow the work to be done quickly and safely and without disrupting electricity supplies. The insulators on the towers are being moved through 90 degrees from a vertical to horizontal position to raise the height of the lowest wires by 4.5 metres. This will give the clearance needed for ships to pass below carrying wind turbine components manufactured at the Smulders Projects yard at Wallsend.

The work will ensure that Sky Jackets, the foundations which support wind turbines and sit on the sea bed, are able to reach their destination at offshore wind farms in the Moray Firth and near Aberdeen Bay. Raising the line will allow it to continue to operate safely and efficiently, delivering electricity to homes and businesses across the North East and beyond and helping maintaining National Grid’s outstanding record for reliably delivering electricity.

Guy Johnson, Overhead Line Manager said: “We’ve been in conversation with Smulders and their predecessor, OGN about their need to move increasingly taller components along the river from the Wallsend yard out to sea. For operational reasons, the Sky Jackets need to be transported in an upright position and we need to make sure there is a safety clearance between the top of the load and the lowest power line over the river.

“The main challenge has been planning the job in a way which allows our engineers to work to alter the kit on the pylon as safely and as freely as possible at this great height as they would on the ground. We’ve developed new techniques and methodology for carrying out the works on these pylons.”

Engineers have had to develop a way of keeping the wires on the lowest cross arms on the pylons under tension to raise the clearance underneath without placing strain on the cross arms or any of the other equipment on the tower. New ropes, winching equipment and rescue kits were also acquired because of the complexities and risks of at such a great height.

Guy added: “We are constantly developing our working practices to further increase safety, reduce costs and delivering value for money for electricity bill payers.

“The work on the River Tyne pylons is definitely a job for someone with a head for heights. Our engineers are used to working on pylons, but these are amongst the tallest in the country after ones spanning the River Thames near London and the River Severn at Bristol.

“Our development and delivery of this project has been focussed not only on safety but also on keeping costs down, as these are passed on to bill payers. We’ve managed this through the way we have designed the project as well as through managing construction work efficiently.”

The project is due to be completed by 30 June and the first vessel carrying parts for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm in the Moray Firth will pass below in August 2017.

Contact for media information only

Press officer - Infrastructure Projects
Jeanette Unsworth
jeanette.unsworth@nationalgrid.com
+44 (0)7785 290230

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Notes for editors


Notes to Editors:

National Grid is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world and was named Responsible Business of the Year 2014 by Business in the Community. This accolade acknowledges all of our efforts in getting involve with the things that really matter to us and to society. We own and manage the grids that connect people to the energy they need, from whatever the source.  In Britain and the north-eastern states of the US we run systems that deliver gas and electricity to millions of people, businesses and communities.

In Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country.  In the North Eastern US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles.

National Grid in the UK:

  • We own the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales, operating it across Great Britain
  • We own and operate the high pressure gas transmission system in Britain
  • We also own a number of related businesses including LNG importation, land remediation and metering
  • Our portfolio of other businesses is mainly concerned with infrastructure provision and related services where we can exploit our core skills and assets to create value. These businesses operate in areas such as Metering, Grain LNG Import, Interconnectors and Property. National Grid Carbon Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of National Grid. It undertakes Carbon Capture Storage related activities on behalf of National Grid.

Find out more about the energy challenge and how National Grid is helping find solutions to some of the challenges we face at www.nationalgridconnecting.com

National Grid undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this release, which speaks only as at the date of this release, unless required by law or regulation.

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