Its independently chaired Stakeholder Advisory Group announced its recommendation that the work should initially be carried out over the next 12 months in:
- Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Winterbourne Abbas;
- New Forest National Park near Hale, Hampshire;
- Peak District National Park near Dunford Bridge, South Yorkshire;
- Snowdonia National Park near Porthmadog, Gwynedd.
Using a £500 million allowance made available by regulator Ofgem until 2021, National Grid plans to reduce the visual impact of high voltage overhead lines in these areas, with a range of techniques being considered in each, including cabling underground.
The projects will require detailed technical feasibility works including environmental and archaeological studies and engineering work, as well as engagement with local stakeholders and communities.
Chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, the environmentalist Chris Baines, said: "Reducing the visual impact of pylons and power lines in our most precious landscapes is highly desirable, but it is also very expensive and technically complex so we have had to make some difficult decisions.
"Although four schemes have been prioritised, none of the locations on our original shortlist have been dropped and they will remain under consideration for future work to reduce the impact of National Grid's transmission lines under the Visual Impact Provision project."
Other protected landscapes that will remain under consideration for future work using the VIP allowance are the Brecon Beacons National Park, High Weald AONB, North Wessex Downs AONB and the Tamar Valley AONB.