National Grid has unveiled its detailed proposals for the £2.8bn project to connect the proposed nuclear power station at Moorside in Western Cumbria into the electricity network. The company is proposing some of the most extensive undergrounding of lines which will also replace some existing lines reducing the impact of the project on the landscape of Cumbria and the Lake District in particular.
In total National Grid proposes to put 23.4km (14.5 miles) of new line underground through the entire western section of the Lake District National Park. This could see the existing lines there being removed completely, leaving this part of the park free of pylons for the first time in 50 years. This is in addition to: – putting cables through a tunnel measuring approx. 22km (13 miles) under Morecambe Bay to avoid the south part of the national park at a cost of £1.2bn – removing many of the existing pylons owned by Electricity North West (ENW) and replacing them with fewer, taller pylons of its own operating at a greater voltage – replacing the low voltage line in the area around the Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site with underground cables Consultation on the proposals starts on Friday 28 October and nearly 90,000 newsletters have been mailed to homes and businesses along to route to explain how people can take part.
Robert Powell, Project Manager said: “We’ve undertaken significant engagement during the six years we have spent developing our plans. We’ve listened very carefully to groups like the Lake District National Park Authority, the National Trust and members of the public on the importance of the national park and other treasured landscapes in Cumbria and Lancashire. Balancing the impact of the project on the landscape against its cost has involved making some difficult choices as the cost of building a connection is ultimately passed on to energy bill payers. We believe the proposal we are going to consult on over the coming months strikes the best balance. Our consultation will now give people a chance to have their say on the fine detail of the project.”
National Grid is confident that along the approx164km (102 mile) route of the proposed connection, it can remove many of the existing pylons owned by Electricity North West which carry low voltage power lines around the west coast of Cumbria. It will replace them with fewer, taller pylons carrying lines of its own operating at a higher voltage. Engineers are already developing proposals for a £1.2bn tunnel under Morecambe Bay which would avoid putting new lines through the southern part of the Lake District. It is already estimated that around £1.9bn will be spent putting sections of the connection out of sight – over 50% of the cost of the total project.
Full details of the proposal are available on the project website at www.northwestcoastconnections.com and the consultation runs from Friday 28 October 2016 until 5pm on Friday 6 January 2017. The company aims to submit an application for consent to build the new connection to the Planning Inspectorate in 2017. A decision will then be made by the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. If consent is granted, construction work is expected to start in 2019. National Grid is currently contracted to provide NuGen with the first phase of the connection into its transmission network by 2024.