Don’t waste mil­lions on a tun­nel... help pay for bridge

AM’S CALL TO NA­TIONAL GRID ON STRAIT CA­BLES

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

THE NA­TIONAL Grid should pay to­wards the cost of a new £200m Me­nai cross­ing rather than ‘waste mil­lions’ on an un­der­ground tun­nel to carry ca­bles un­der the strait.

The claim comes from An­gle­sey’s As­sem­bly Mem­ber fol­low­ing con­fir­ma­tion that pro­pos­als for a third bridge con­nect­ing the is­land to the main­land re­main on track for com­ple­tion by 2022, sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion dur­ing peak pe­ri­ods.

There have long been calls for the Grid to pay for part of the es­ti­mated £200m struc­ture, which would also carry their ca­bles, in­stead of forg­ing ahead with plans for a £100m tun­nel un­der the seabed be­tween An­gle­sey and Gwynedd to carry the elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from projects such as Wylfa Newydd and un­der­wa­ter tur­bines off the coast of Holy­head.

But de­spite warn­ings from the Grid that any timescale for a new bridge would “have to be brought for­ward sig­nif­i­cantly” for such an ar­range­ment to work, the First Min­is­ter says they are still in talks over such a deal although noth­ing has yet been agreed.

Ynys Môn As­sem­bly Mem­ber, Rhun ap Ior­w­erth, wel­comed the an­nounce­ment that £3m had been al­lo­cated from the gov­ern­ment’s bud­get to­wards de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing the new cross­ing, raised the issue in the Senedd last week.

Dur­ing First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions, the Plaid Cymru AM said: “In June last year, I made an ap­peal to en­sure that the Na­tional Grid should make a fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the bridge rather than wast­ing £100m or £200 mil­lion on a tun­nel un­der the Me­nai Strait.

“Now that the com­ple­tion date, rather than the com­mence­ment date, is 2021-22, can we take that as a sign that the Na­tional Grid have agreed to make this con­tri­bu­tion and that we are seek­ing a model to achieve that?”

In re­sponse, the First Min­is­ter said: “There is no kind of agree­ment as yet.

“I raised this with the Grid about two to three years ago. At that time, we wanted to con­sider with them how we could develop a cross­ing for the Me­nai.

“At that point, they weren’t in­ter­ested.

“Things have changed since then, but we’re not in a po­si­tion where we can say, ‘There is an agree­ment’.

“By May of next year, of course, we will an­nounce the route that we wish to take so that the bridge can be built.

“By then, of course — way be­fore then, we hope — we’ll be in a po­si­tion where we know what the grid’s po­si­tion will be, and what kind of con­tri­bu­tion they wish to make to the cross­ing.”

A spokesman for the Na­tional Grid said: “We can see the at­trac­tion of a new bridge for traf­fic also car­ry­ing our ca­bles.

“How­ever, our con­nec­tion for Wylfa Newydd needs to be com­plete when it is ready to start gen­er­at­ing to en­sure the ben­e­fits of the power sta­tion for the com­mu­nity and con­sumers are re­alised.

“At the mo­ment, a tun­nel is the only cer­tain op­tion to con­nect Hori­zon in time and pro­tect the land­scape at the Me­nai Strait.

“We are work­ing with the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to see what op­por­tu­ni­ties there may be for us to use their third cross­ing, but there is a lot of work to be done be­fore we will know if it could be achieved and if there are any sav­ings to bill pay­ers.”

Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Ior­w­erth, left, is urg­ing the Na­tional Grid to con­trib­ute to a third Me­nai Strait cross­ing which could carry their ca­bles from Wylfa Newydd, rather than run­ning them un­der the Strait in a sep­a­rate tun­nel

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