Electricity company SSEN has expressed “regret” after withdrawing an offer to remove two pylons and bury high-voltage electricity cables underground at Waverley Abbey Junior School in Tilford free of charge.

After a gruelling six years of discussions, SSEN pulled the plug on its offer after failing to reach an agreement with the Diocese of Guildford, which runs the school, and Surrey County Council before its latest deadline at the end of April.

This was the second deadline SSEN has set the diocese and council in the past two years, both of which passed without all parties signing the relevant documentation to enable the works to go ahead.

A spokesperson for SSEN said: “In 2016, SSEN offered to underground the overhead cables at the school and remove the pylons; works which we offered to carry out free of charge as we believed this would be highly beneficial to the school and its pupils.

“The offer was made to align with other works being carried out on a neighbouring property, but after seven years of trying to complete this scheme and reach agreement with the landowners and responsible parties, we were forced to place a final deadline of end April 2023, as widely reported, to accelerate completion of the outstanding documentation.

“This final deadline, which followed previous deadlines in 2021 and 2022, passed without the completion of necessary documentation by one of the parties and we have therefore reluctantly made the decision to withdraw the offer to carry out the works.

“This outcome is highly regrettable and one we sought to avoid, but to meet our commitment to other customers, we must now proceed with the initial works as a matter of urgency.  As always, our team remains open to further discussion with relevant stakeholders.”

The diocese and council have also opened the door to further discussions, should “SSE decide they wish to proceed with the works”.