The UK’s electricity supplier National Grid has unveiled detailed proposals for the £2.8bn project to connect the proposed nuclear power station at Moorside in Cumbria into the electricity network, ahead of starting consultation on Friday 28 October. It has announced plans to look at putting 23.4km of new line in tunnel through the entire western section of the Lake District National Park. This is in addition to putting cables through a tunnel measuring approx. 22km under Morecambe Bay to avoid the south part of the national park at a cost of £1.2bn
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 approx 164km 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.
Since publishing details of the route the new connection could take in June last year, National Grid has been talking to local authorities and key bodies about the technology which could be used to make the connection and to map out in detail exactly where in the landscape it could sit. The company has also made contact with landowners and land occupiers along the route and is currently carrying out surveys in some locations to gather vital information.
The company is proposing to build a complete connection to link the proposed new power station into the electricity transmission network. This will see the connection built along a route going onshore north from Moorside to an existing substation at Harker near Carlisle in addition to a route going onshore south from Moorside across the Furness peninsula and through a tunnel under Morecambe Bay which would come up at an existing substation near Heysham in Lancashire. This would effectively create a ‘power ring’ around the NW coast which would provide Moorside with a secure connection into the grid and also allow other new generators to link into the electricity network in Cumbria in the future. 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.
Consultation starts on 28 October 2016 and runs until 5pm on 6 January 2017. People can take part online on the project website and can register there for updates as the project progresses. The project website can be found at: www.northwestcoastconnections.com For further information about the project, please contact the project team direct using any of the following methods: