Published: 06:00, 22 June 2021
| Updated: 14:22, 22 June 2021
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the top half of an old pylon dangling from a helicopter.
The giant metal structure was removed to make way for a scheme that passes high voltage renewable energy between Belgium and Richborough under the sea.
Overhead cables between Canterbury and Sandwich were removed last week, marking the final stages in the Richborough Connection Project.
This went live in November 2018 connecting a high-voltage electricity link between Herdersbrug in Belgium and Richborough via a 1,000-megawatt undersea interconnector, known as the Nemo Link®.
Clean electricity is harnessed and supplied to the two countries. In Britain this is connected to and distributed via the National Grid.
The latest development came when a Swiss Helirig KA-32 Kamov helicopter was deployed to Canterbury to help remove a line of old pylons following National Grid’s completion of the new overhead line in late 2018, the first to be built in Kent in over 25 years.
The KA-32 arrived from Switzerland on Wednesday, June 9, and went straight to work on the line between Richborough and Canterbury.
A statement from National Grid explained the unique approach of using a helicopter was vital to safely remove a pylon where the ground was unstable and to avoid essential services including a high-pressure gas pipeline in the area.
The project is due to finish in the autumn.
The old pylons removed by the helicopter are being recycled by European Metal Recycling (EMR). EMR processes metal materials which are then sold for re-purpose across the globe, supporting the circular economy.
Su Nevesebrooks at National Grid commented: “It was fantastic to have the support of the Helirig and J. Murphy & Sons to help us continue our work to finish the final phase of the Richborough Connection project in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.
"The removal of the pylons marks the final stage of the project, following the team’s completion of the new 400kV powerline.
"We’re delighted to have achieved this milestone, ensuring a vital electricity supply to consumers in the UK and beyond.”
In December 2018 260km of high voltage cables were placed on the pylons, paving the way for the final testing and commissioning of the Nemo Link interconnector.
More than 750,000 working hours were spent building the new overhead line by 6,000 workers. In addition, works were also carried out at Canterbury North substation and the new Richborough substation with both substations extended and equipment either installed or upgraded. This work was carried out by ABB and Siemens.