Row over claims Grid ‘re­fused’ meet­ing to dis­cuss tun­nel plans

But en­ergy net­work in­sists it held talks and shared doc­u­ments on £100m Strait scheme

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Gareth W Wil­liams

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

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