Friday, November 18, 2016
Could we put our cables on a bridge instead of in a tunnel?
by Gareth Williams, senior project manager
A number of you have asked us at our consultation events, and there has been some press speculation, about us putting the cables we need to connect Wylfa Newydd on a proposed third bridge over the Menai Strait, rather than under it in a tunnel.
We’ve been talking to Welsh Government for a long time to understand their plans. The third bridge project actually started before our project. Back in 2007/2008 Welsh Government held a public consultation about the potential of a third bridge. When we started our project in 2010, we wanted to make sure that our projects didn’t clash or cause issues for each other and started a regular conversation.
I can absolutely see the attraction of combining a tunnel for our cables and a new bridge for traffic for the efficient use of funds and to help the socio-economics of the area. As our plans have developed, we’ve been talking with Welsh Government about the possibility of a third bridge across the Menai Strait and the opportunities to align our project with this.
In order for our application to be approved by April 2019, we need to have a final design complete by late 2017, ready to submit our application to the Planning Inspectorate. April 2019 is important because it’s the date of our contract with Horizon (who are building Wylfa Newydd). It is also the date when we will need to start building the connection so that it is ready to carry electricity when Wylfa Newydd starts generating in 2024.
The four kilometre tunnel under the Menai will take five years to construct, so we will be appointing tunnel contractors in the summer of 2019, almost immediately after gaining consent. Constructing an overhead line takes less time so we won’t start construction on this for several years.
At the moment, the timeline for a new bridge doesn’t match ours. As Welsh Government develops its preferred option for a crossing and more information becomes available on this we’ll keep working closely with them to look at any possibilities of using the bridge to carry our cables.