SLR Consulting’s environmental support to National Grid has informed the development of the North West Coast Connections project, which started its second round of public pre-application consultation on 4 September.
This nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) is the largest undertaken in the UK by National Grid since the electricity transmission system was constructed, and will help it extend its network to connect new sources of electricity generated from low-carbon sources.
The project will link Moorside – the proposed new nuclear power station to be built near Sellafield in West Cumbria, as well as an offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea – into the existing electricity network in Cumbria and Lancashire.
SLR’s multi-disciplinary team, coordinated from the company’s Leeds office, identified a number of route corridors taking into account a wide range of environmental, socio-economic, technical and cost considerations. The project was led by SLR’s landscape and EIA teams and advice was provided across a range of technical disciplines including landscape, ecology, archaeology, soils and geology, hydrology, planning, transport and acoustics.
‘Identifying possible connection corridors in this part of the country isn’t without its challenges.,’ says SLR technical director of landscape architecture, Penny Williams, who led the team. A key aspect, she explains, has been working closely with National Grid’s stakeholder steering group made up of county and local authorities from across the region as well the Lake District National Park Authority, Natural England and English Heritage, who have helped to shape the development of the project.
‘Our work involved evaluating the opportunities and constraints presented for both onshore and offshore High Voltage Direct Current options,’ Penny adds. ‘This considered National Grid’s Holford Rules on overhead line routeing, together with environmental and socio-economic constraints and sensitivities. The emerging preferred option, which forms the subject of the consultation launched this week, would see a cable tunnel constructed under Morecambe Bay. This option strikes a good balance between the environmental, socio-economic technical and cost considerations and avoids impact on parts of the National Park and many other designated areas in the area around the head of Morecambe Bay. Reaching the stage where the public can now provide feedback on National Grid’s prioritised routes is a major milestone in this project and we are looking forward to seeing the response.’
The consultation on the proposed routes runs until 28 November 2014. You can refer to the consultation website for full details.