Don’t waste millions on a tunnel... help pay for bridge
AM’S CALL TO NATIONAL GRID ON STRAIT CABLES
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