Luca Csepely-Knorr (Manchester Metropolitan University);
Laura Coucill (Manchester Metropolitan University)

‘Power and the Countryside’:
Power Stations, Amenity and Rural Britain

Is the countryside the largest industrial landscape? Places perceived as rural are home to some spatially extensive and highly productive activities: from agriculture to electricity, rural landscapes have been demarcated and adapted to enable various forms of production and even the commodification of space itself. Whilst the ubiquitous enclosure of open land into hedged fields for agriculture is not typically perceived as synonymous with widespread industrialisation, the introduction of large, culturally visible infrastructures in the ‘natural’ landscape is often met with controversy and protective measures.[1] This was the case for major programmemes to expand electrical and power generation and transmission in Britain following WWII and to protect amenity, landscape architects were appointed to assure the amenity of rural space

Through the comparative analysis of two power stations, this paper examines how prominent landscape architects, Dame Sylvia Crowe and Derek Lovejoy, curated two contrasting countryside landscape settings. West Burton coal fired power station is located along the River Trent adjacent to largely flat, agricultural land. Trawsfynnedd nuclear power station is located in the mountainous setting of Snowdonia National Park. In both cases, the designers used the intervention of major infrastructure to enhance the existing setting and create dramatic scenes which might be considered characteristic of Burke’s expression of the sublime.[2] Their marks on the landscape challenge the idea that «industrial civilisation and beautiful landscapes are incompatible»[3] and raise the question; to what extent has the design of major power infrastructure in the post-war period contributed to the cultural identity of rural space.

[1] BERQUE, A. 2008 .Thinking through Landscape. Routledge, London. p.4.
[2] BURKE E. 2008 .(reissue) A Philosophical Enquiry. Oxford World Classics, London.
[3] BERQUE, A. 2008. Thinking through Landscape. Routledge, London. p.4.