National Grid is to use a helicopter to help place a new power line across two of the tallest electricity pylons in the region which have just been built on either side of the River Tees in Middlesbrough.

The work is part of a £50 million project to refurbish and replace sections of overhead line in the Middlesbrough area.

The new 145 m (425ft) tall pylons have been built so that the power line can be moved away from its current route through a chemical works to a location where the pylons will be more easily accessible for future maintenance work.

A helicopter will be used to lift and place guide wires on the cross arms of the towers. These wires will then be used to pull the heavier conductor – the wire which will eventually carry the electricity – into place over the river.

Mark Brennan, Project Manager said: “This is a very tricky operation but our focus will be on carrying out the work safely. The new lines are being installed at such a great height because of the width of the River Tees at the crossing point and the fact that we need to make sure there is a safe clearance distance for the ships which will pass below.”

The line over the Tees is part of the network of overhead lines, underground cables and substations that carry high voltage electricity across the country. The investment will keep the lines in good working order to ensure that everyone has the power they need, safely, and at the touch of a button.

Engineers will be replacing existing wires and repairing or renewing steelwork, foundations and other equipment  on a total of 30 pylons. Another 12 pylons will be dismantled and new ones built to replace them.

Work has been underway since last May, with over 60 workers mobilized and is expected to take until the end of this year to complete. There will be no interruption to electricity supplies during the work.

National Grid, which is the UK’s largest utility, has been working with local authorities, the Environment Agency and Natural England, amongst others, in planning the works on the lines which cross industrial areas, roads and railways in addition to the River Tees.

Mark added: “Our purpose is to connect people to the energy they use. This £50m investment will help ensure we can all continue to rely on having energy at our finger tips.  Our society is built on the warmth and light we rely on at home, and the power which keeps our factories and offices going.”