Row over claims Grid ‘refused’ meeting to discuss tunnel plans
But energy network insists it held talks and shared documents on £100m Strait scheme
DEVELOPERS who want to build a £100m tunnel under the Menai Strait have angered councillors by “refusing” to meet them and not providing enough information about their plans.
The National Grid’s proposal for a tunnel to connect Wylfa Newydd to the main network is set to take five years to complete, based on the time taken to build a 32km network of power tunnels currently being constructed in central London.
But a motion to be discussed by Anglesey councillors will call on the Grid to carry out another public consultation amid concerns that the lack of detailed information they have provided means that neither the public nor the council are in a position to consider its full impact.
The Planning Inspectorate will make a final decision, with the public having a chance to submit their views after the proposals are submitted for consideration – expected to be shortly after Horizon submits its application for the nuclear power station.
The 4km underground tunnel is set carry the cables to avoid using pylons at the popular beauty spot, despite calls for collaborative working with the Welsh Government so that a proposed third Menai crossing could incorporate the cables instead.
The tunnel is set to be buried up to 100 metres down, measuring five metres in diameter, with tunnel boring machines drilling under the surface and lining it with concrete. On each side of the Menai, tunnel head houses, roughly the size of a three-storey building, will help ventilate the tunnel and stop the cables from overheating.
To facilitate the works, the Grid has proposed temporary road closures in the area surrounding Llanfairpwll in order to accommodate the heavy goods vehicles as work goes on.
But Cllr Carwyn Jones’ motion, due to to be discussed at full council yesterday as the Mail went to press, raises concerns about the impact of traffic, particularly HGVs, around the proposed tunnel head building, including Llanfairpwll and Llandaniel Fab.
Noting that the Grid has “refused” requests to attend a formal briefing session with members, the motion also calls for the company to provide the information and respond to councillors’ questions.
Cllr Jones, the portfolio holder for major projects and economic development, said: “It’s extremely frustrating that senior National Grid officers don’t want to speak to us.”
In response, Gareth Williams, senior project manager for the North Wales Connection project, said: “During the many years in which we have been developing our plans for this vital new connection, we have shared over 40,000 pages of technical documents and have held around 120 meetings with members and officers of the council.
“These have included 80 individual workshops on the detail of our proposals and how we are trying to mitigate their effects – including how we intend to build the tunnel under the Menai Strait and detailed information on traffic and transport. The council’s leadership and officers have replied with over 300 pages of formal responses.
“We have also consulted extensively with local communities and have received hundreds of pieces of feedback from them on all aspects of our project.
He added: “We note the motion due to be discussed by the council and would stress that we follow all relevant planning legislation and guidance when planning and carrying out work in Wales.”
The National Grid wants to build a tunnel under the Menai Strait to connect Wylfa Newydd to the main network