Anglesey councillors have reacted angrily to plans to build new overhead power lines across the island.
The National Grid’s proposals for a second 400kV transmission link were accepted on Friday. The cables would carry electricity from the proposed nuclear reactor at Wylfa Newydd.
But Anglesey Council wanted the new power lines for the ‘North Wales Connection’ project to be built underground and warned a new set of pylons would affect local tourism.
The application comes after the council gave the go ahead for developers Horizon to clear more than 700 acres of land earmarked for Wylfa Newydd. The local authority is facing legal action from Greenpeace over the decision, as final permission for the reactor has not yet been given.
Reacting to the National Grid’s plans, council leader Llinos Medi said: ”There is a clear consensus amongst the Island’s elected representatives – we are unanimous in our opposition to a second line of electricity pylons across Anglesey, and we want any new power lines to be undergrounded.”
She added: ”As the host community and local authority, our priority is to ensure the best possible outcomes for the people and communities of Anglesey and we are very concerned that local views have not been considered following the engagement and consultation process.”
The National Grid said it had changed some of its plans after receiving over 5,000 pieces of feedback during its consultations. They include:
- Selecting a route corridor along the centre of Anglesey, close to the existing line – avoiding options nearer the coast and in larger towns and villages
- Building a tunnel to carry power under the Menai Strait and onto the mainland
- Keeping the route away from such areas as Menai Bridge, Llanfairpwll and Y Felinheli
- Seeking consent for another tunnel to protect the Anglesey Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Project manager Gareth Williams said: ”We recognise that we have not been able to do everything we have been asked. But we believe our proposals offer the best balance of everything we must consider and mean there are no long-term effects for most areas of Anglesey and north Gwynedd.”
He added: ”The connection will transport low carbon power to homes and businesses across Wales and the rest of the UK. Our application is an important step in unlocking many millions of pounds of local investment and around 9,000 construction jobs that the power station will create.”
”We’ve listened to what people have told us and made hundreds of changes – big and small – as we’ve developed our plans. The feedback we’ve received during our consultations, and through our conversations with landowners, has made a real difference to the final design.”
But Carwyn Jones, the Anglesey executive’s member for major projects, accused the National Grid of failing to give ”adequate consideration to the unique nature and characteristics of Anglesey as a small island and as a prominent tourist destination, with many areas of outstanding natural beauty.”
In an interview with BBC Cymru Wales, he warned that the council may consider legal action under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which came into force last year.
The council’s chief of economic development, Dylan Williams, said: ”Although we recognise the need for an enhanced grid capacity…we do not feel that the National Grid’s plans are the right solution for the island.”
”Our role as a key consultee will be taken seriously to ensure that National Grid have to deliver a project that works for the Island, its communities, residents and the Menai area of Gwynedd.”
The Planning Inspectorate will now formally consider whether to accept the application in the next 28 days. If it does, a series of local public meetings will be held before a final decision is made by the UK Government.