The German government’s energy programme has come up against an unexpected barrier after the state of Bavaria threatened to block the new north-south (Sudlink) transmission line, which is to be put in place to deliver wind energy from the north to the country’s southern regions.

Bavaria‘s chief minister, Horst Seehofer (pictured with German Chancellor Angela Merkel) has performed an unexpected U-turn after previously backing the project to bolster the state’s power, with nuclear plants scheduled to go offline in the coming years, thanks to the energiewende policy.

However, Seehofer has now called for a moratorium on plans to lay hundreds of kilometres of power lines, after citizens expressed opposition to proliferation of pylons along the Bavarian landscape.

Bavaria, home to a number of leading energy-hungry industries, would be among the north-south programme’s biggest beneficiaries, especially as an energy deficit now looms as a result of nuclear power plant closures.

With local council elections due next month, the CSU leader has bowed to public opinion and made a dramatic U-turn.

Bavarian officials argue that, because recent energy reforms constitute such a dramatic policy change, the government is obliged to intervene and take back oversight of the planned power lines from the network regulator. If this happens the route planning could again become a political game between national and regional politicians.

However, the regulator on Thursday insisted there had been no such fundamental policy change.

The Financial Times reports that Seehofer’s move came as the two companies preparing Südlink, the first of the planned long-distance power connections, published details of its route, which would run 800km from the offshore wind farms of Schleswig Holstein to Bavaria. Construction is planned to start in 2016, with completion in 2022.

The total new network is forecast to reach 3,000km, with a further 2,000km of existing power lines requiring upgrading.

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