Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of the most frequent questions we receive about our project, which we hope you find useful.

NuGen has announced it is conducting a strategic review to look at its ownership and technology vendor. NuGen is confident this review will lead to an outcome that provides a more robust, stable and sustainable platform to meet its commitment to deliver the next generation of nuclear power.

As a result of focussing their efforts on this review, NuGen are pausing work on their development consent order for Moorside. In light of this, we have decided to pause our work to consent NuGen’s connection and take the time to understand NuGen’s programme to make sure our projects are aligned.

It is important that we make sure the consents run broadly in parallel, so the Planning Inspectorate can examine the consent application for our connection knowing there is a strong need for it. Despite this pause, we are confident the connection will still be ready when NuGen requires it and are continuing to work closely with them.

We would like to thank people and stakeholders once again for all their efforts in responding to our previous consultation. We will let you know more about how we are developing our connection as soon as we are able.

NuGen have decided to reduce their efforts on their development consent order (DCO) for Moorside Power Station while they conduct a strategic review of their project.

In light of this, we have decided to pause our work to consent NuGen’s connection, take the time to understand NuGen’s programme and make sure our projects are aligned – both for the application for consent and the development of the infrastructure itself.

Getting consent for a DCO is complicated and expensive. Any money National Grid spends is paid for by consumers, so we want to be confident we’re spending money at the time it’s required for the NuGen project to go ahead.

All the feedback we received during the consultation is really important.

When we’re asked to connect new power sources to the electricity transmission system we must consider a number of important factors when deciding what to build and where. As well as needing to meet strict quality standards and legislation to ensure the connection is safe, reliable and affordable, we also need to take into account its potential effects on people, landscapes and the environment.

The different requirements and considerations we must meet often compete with one another.

Reviewing our proposals in light of feedback you provided, as someone who lives and works in the local area, helps us find the right balance between all these considerations. It also helps us find out if we have missed anything or can improve on our plans.

Bringing an additional layer of information to our assessments, your comments give us an insight into what’s important to people, helping us to shape our proposals and influence the decisions we need to make. Where we’ve not been able to take on board your suggestions, we will explain why.

Ultimately it's the UK government which decides whether our final application achieves this balance, but before we finalise our application we want to know what you think.

We want to thank everyone for all the feedback we received and the effort which went into it. We have gone through over 8,000 pieces of feedback to our formal consultation and are considering how this, along with our environmental studies, may affect the design we take forward.

We will provide more details about this when we restart the project and we know more about the project timeline. As required by the DCO process, we will publish our consultation report, which summaries feedback and our response to it, at the time of the DCO submission.

The consultation we held which took place over ten weeks from October 2016 until January 2017 was a formal stage of consultation required under sections 42 and 47 of the Planning Act (PA) 2008.

Under the PA 2008, we're required to consult local communities and stakeholders on our proposals before submitting an application for consent to the Planning Inspectorate.

While the PA 2008 only required us to consult on our proposals at our formal stage, we chose to hold consultation at earlier stages to help people understand what the project might mean for them and for us to understand any concerns they might have. This earlier consultation also allowed us to gather information about the different social, economic and environmental effects the scheme might have, and the different measures we can build into the project to reduce them.

Our proposals showed for the first time the detailed design we’re proposing for the new connection. Our proposals set out what the connection could look like, including how and where it would be built, the location of our equipment, and the measures we’d put in place to help reduce its potential effect.

The connection we are proposing is approximately 164km (102 miles) long and broadly follows the path taken by existing Electricity North West pylon lines around the west coast of Cumbria before going under Morecambe Bay to Lancashire.

Based on our own assessments and what we’ve been told by communities and stakeholders, we think the proposals on which we consulted strike the right balance between limiting the effects of a new connection on the landscape, tourism, communities and the wider environment, while keeping energy bills affordable.

Before we finalise our plans, we want to know what you think. If you believe there are ways we could change the proposals to further reduce any potential effects let us know how and, just as importantly, why.

It would cost approximately £2.8 billion to build the connection set out in the detailed design we’re consulting on. We propose spending about £1.9 billion of this total cost on putting in place measures all along the route to help reduce its potential effect on people, places and the environment.

These measures include:

  • Building a tunnel approx. 22km (13 miles) long under Morecambe Bay.
  • Removing approx. 153km (95 miles) of existing ENW 132kV pylon lines*.
  • Putting 23.4km (14.5 miles) of cable underground, including all of the connection passing through the Lake District National Park.

*Net benefit – while we propose removing approximately 165km (103 miles) of existing 132kV ENW pylon lines, we will need to rebuild around 12km (7.5 miles) of 132kV pylon lines to maintain supplies of electricity to homes.

All the money we spend on nationally important energy infrastructure is paid for by us all through our energy bills. Ongoing investment in our electricity transmission network accounts for three per cent of the average domestic energy consumer’s annual bill.

We are regulated by Ofgem, whose key objective is to make sure customers get value for money. This means that when we deliver new connections, we need to do so in a way which maintains the secure and reliable supply of energy, minimises any potential effects on local communities and the environment, and keeps energy bills affordable.

The existing pylon lines which run around the west coast of Cumbria and Lancashire are owned and operated by Electricity North West. They are used to distribute electricity to homes and businesses across the region.

These pylon lines operate at 132kV and below. They do not have capacity to carry the amount of electricity a power station the size of Moorside will generate.

This means we need to build a high voltage connection from Moorside to our existing national electricity transmission network. The closest points on our network where these circuits can connect are over 50km (31 miles) away from the site.

When selecting pylon designs, we look at the type of landscape we’re running through and views of it. We consider the visual effects, local economy, heritage sites, ecology, transport, engineering feasibility and costs, as well as listening to what local communities and technical specialists tell us about our proposals.

After careful consideration of previous feedback and our own assessments, we’re proposing to use 12 lower height lattice pylons in areas where we believe they’ll help to reduce the prominence of an overhead line in a particularly sensitive view.

We believe it is only appropriate to use lower height lattice pylons in certain contexts, for instance where they can help to minimise the prominence of a pylon against the skyline.

Although lower in height these pylons have wider cross-arms and need to be positioned closer together, which would result in more pylons overall.

It would be easier and more cost-effective for us to build our new connection on a route with no existing ENW pylon lines. However, feedback to earlier consultations directed us to consider routeing a new connection along the paths taken by existing 132kV pylon lines, replacing them with our 400kV equipment.

As a minimum we’re proposing to remove one existing 132kV pylon line along the whole route of our proposed new connection. In some areas we are also proposing to remove sections of a second 132kV pylon line, as well as sections of 33kV pylon lines.

This would require an investment of approximately £465 million in the local distribution network, but it would see around 153km (95 miles)* of existing ENW 132kV pylon lines removed.

We would need to make some changes to the existing electricity network including substations to do this, but we believe this approach is essential to helping us reduce the potential effects of the project on local communities and the environment.

*Net benefit – while we propose removing approximately 165km (103 miles) of existing 132kV ENW pylon lines, we will need to rebuild around 12km (7.5 miles) of 132kV pylon lines to maintain supplies of electricity to homes.

We build new substations, or upgrade and replace existing ones for a number of reasons such as connecting additional power generation or meeting increased demand.

For this project, extensions to existing substations are proposed to accommodate changes we’d make to the electricity network. At Middleton it is to connect new 400kV circuits while at the ENW substations (Stainburn, Siddick, Sandgate and Natland) it is to accommodate removal of existing 132kV lines while making sure that the supply of electricity to local homes and businesses is maintained.

Before we looked at the possibility of building a tunnel under Morecambe Bay to route the new connection through, we looked at an option of routeing the southern part of our connection onshore around the Bay through south Cumbria and into Lancashire. By following the path of existing pylon lines this would potentially have been one of the most straightforward and economical solutions for us to deliver.

However, compared with crossing Morecambe Bay, this option would have increased the length of the onshore connection by an additional 60km (37.5 miles). It would also have put an additional 23km (14.3 miles) of the connection through the Lake District National Park (LDNP), as well as new overhead line through other designated areas and valued landscapes.

We do tend to only consider tunnelling in those areas where direct burial of cable would be difficult. However for this project we believe that the cost and significant technical challenges associated with building a tunnel under Morecambe Bay are justified as a measure to avoid the impacts of building the southern part of our connection onshore around south Cumbria and into Lancashire.

We have looked very carefully at this option as well as a range of other possible ways of crossing the Duddon without using pylons. We recognise the importance of the Estuary both in environmental terms and to the people who live and work there. But, while we acknowledge that many people would like to see a tunnel under the Duddon, we have not included it in our proposals because we believe it is possible to route and build an alternative costing hundreds of millions of pounds less.

We recognise the importance of the Lake District National Park as a hugely valued and protected landscape, and the important role it plays in Cumbria’s visitor economy.

Having listened to and carefully considered the views of stakeholders and members of the public, we’re proposing to place 23.4km (14.5 miles) of our new connection underground where it passes through the National Park. We’ve made this decision after balancing our duty to be economic and efficient against the potential environmental effects of an overhead line in this sensitive environment.

We have looked carefully at a range of options for getting around the national park, including taking our route offshore. However, a combination of feedback from previous consultations, advice from stakeholders and our own surveys has led us to conclude that putting cable underground in this area is the most appropriate way of reducing our new connection’s potential effect on the National Park.

We know many people would prefer that we put more, if not all, of the new connection underground and we’ve looked carefully at different places along our route where this might be an option.

Putting cable underground reduces the visual impact of overhead lines in sensitive landscapes. But we need to balance the benefit of doing this alongside other considerations such as cost and the environment.

The construction process for putting cable underground is far more disruptive than building pylons. For this connection we need to take a continuous working width of land of around 100 metres, and then excavate four trenches approximately 1.5 metres wide and 1.2 metres deep. This process has potential to damage important geological and archaeological features as well as ecology such as flora and fauna. When land is reinstated after construction, land-use restrictions will apply to avoid the risk of cables being disturbed or damaged, or prevent access to them in the event of there being a fault.

We have no preference for any one technology when it comes to building electrical connections. However some technologies inevitably cost more than others, and underground cable is significantly more expensive to install than building overhead line.

Because of these cost and technical considerations we typically only put cable underground in areas that are protected by designations, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) or National Parks.

Based on all the work we’ve done and everything we’ve been told, we think the proposals we’ve developed now achieve the right balance of all the things we need to consider.

From an early stage in the development process for this project, local authorities and environmental groups urged us to consider the possibility of routeing a connection for Moorside offshore through the sea.

People felt an offshore connection would avoid many of the potential effects a new connection would have if it was built, for example, in or near the Lake District National Park, the Arnside and Silverdale AONB and Morecambe Bay. They also felt that avoiding these areas would reduce any disruption on the tourism economy, as well as the local communities and people living there.

In most cases when we look to route a new connection for long distances through the sea we use high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable. Power is normally generated, transmitted and distributed as alternating current (AC). HVDC provides an alternative solution for the bulk transmission of electricity because, unlike AC, there is no technical limit on the length of the cable used in an HVDC connection. This makes it much better suited for transporting electricity over long distances – particularly offshore.

We carefully studied the possibility of routeing the southern part of the connection coming from Moorside offshore through the Irish Sea using HVDC cable. However, studies showed that while there were different potential routes an offshore connection could take, there were also significant practical and technical challenges associated with building and maintaining a connection out at sea.

HVDC cable is typically used to connect two independent AC networks. For instance England has HVDC interconnectors with the electricity transmission systems in France and The Netherlands, and we’re also using the technology for the Western Link project – a £1 billion project we’re working on with Scottish Power to transfer power between Scotland and England.

While HVDC technology is often used to connect different transmission systems, it isn’t often used as the sole means for connecting an electricity generator to an electricity transmission system.

To date there are no examples, anywhere in the world, of large-scale nuclear generators being connected solely by high voltage direct current – which would be the case if the proposed northern onshore connection was down for maintenance or suffered a fault.

There also remains significant uncertainty over how such a connection could work. The cost of this technology can also be much higher than for equivalent onshore connections.

National Grid has a statutory duty under the Electricity Act 1989 to develop and maintain an efficient, coordinated and economical electricity transmission system and to have regard to preserving amenity. We also need to maintain the supply of electricity to users at all times, even during maintenance or unexpected disruptions.

We have no preference for any one technology when it comes to providing electrical connections; however some do cost more than others so we also need to find a balance between the impact on electricity bills of the more expensive technologies and the potential effect of our network on people, places and the environment.

Having considered these obligations in the context of all the challenges our studies identified with an offshore connection, we ruled out the possibility of progressing an offshore connection for Moorside.

We also looked carefully at taking a High Voltage AC cable offshore between points in Cumbria and a possible landing point at Rossall in Lancashire. The primary reason why it is not part of the scheme we are consulting on is that it is considerably more expensive than our proposed route.

Beyond that, there are considerable technical and environmental challenges associated with its installation. A significant number of cables (18 cables) would need to pass through areas of significant environmental sensitivity (e.g. Morecambe Bay and Duddon Estuary SPA off the Cumbrian coast and the Liverpool Bay SPA off the Fylde coast). The cables would need to be separated to ensure heat dispersal and in order to facilitate the installation and maintenance/repair of the cables.

We recognise how important tourism is to the region and it’s something we’ve considered at every stage of our work. We have worked hard to plan our route sensitively and have carried out studies and surveys to help us understand the key issues and challenges.

We recognise that any development creates challenges, but feel our proposals could also create opportunities. For instance, by undergrounding the whole of the connection where it passes through the Lake District National Park and taking down an existing ENW pylon line, we will leave the western part of the National Park free of pylons for the first time in 50 years. Our plans would see 181 fewer pylons in the landscape than there are currently, with over a quarter of the approximately 164km (102 mile) route going underground. Tunnelling under Morecambe Bay also avoids placing yet more of the connection on a much longer route through the Lake District National Park and other parts of Cumbria and Lancashire.

To help us understand more about the impact of new connection projects on local businesses, especially those that rely on tourism, we commissioned a UK-wide independent survey: 'A study into the effect of National Grid major infrastructure projects on socioeconomic factors'.

This found that 93 per cent of people felt there had been no negative impact on their business as a result of new infrastructure, and 83 per cent of people felt there had been no impact on the local area as a result of new infrastructure. Copies of the report are available on our website.

Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) are produced from all electrical equipment, including overhead lines and the electrical appliances you find in your home.

EMFs are around us wherever electricity is used. If a piece of equipment has a higher voltage, it will produce a bigger electric field. If something has more current running through it, it will have a bigger magnetic field.

No negative health effects relating to exposure to EMFs have been found.

But, despite 30 years of research, there is still some uncertainty among scientists on this subject. We fully understand people may have concerns about EMFs and take this very seriously. We follow all guidance on safe levels of exposure to EMFs given by the government and independent organisations like the World Health Organization (WHO).

Making sure that the public, local communities and our employees are safe is at the heart of our work.

For more information visit www.emfs.info or call 0845 702 3270.

The lands team has submitted all the feedback and information landowners have provided so it can be considered by the project design team. The lands team will be back in touch with you prior to the DCO application submission to provide details of the final design and discuss entering into legal agreements for the assets, accommodation and facilitation works.

We are continuing some limited environmental surveys in areas where we have already worked. The surveys undertaken will provide more environmental information to help us make decisions - making it easier to restart the project in the future.

We are keen for our project to deliver as much economic benefit as possible for communities in this area by providing supply chain opportunities and jobs.

We have a CompeteFor portal on the project website and encourage local businesses to register their details to be notified of upcoming opportunities to support the project. Please head to: www.competefor.com/nationalgrid

If we are granted consent to build the project by the Planning Inspectorate, the construction phase of the project could create many jobs and we hope to source a significant proportion from people living in Cumbria and Lancashire.

We want to inspire people in Cumbria, Lancashire, and around the UK to become the next generation of engineers. We also want to make a difference to the areas we work in by working closely with schools and youth groups.

Through school visits, our apprentice programme and educational resources we’re enabling thousands of people to realise their potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers that will benefit them, their communities, and the UK economy. We’ve already carried out a range of activities with schools and universities in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Whether you’re looking for an apprenticeship, you’re a graduate or have already started your career, we’re always looking for talented individuals to join our team. For more details please visit http://careers.nationalgrid.com/.

The development of the electricity transmission system and associated costs are paid for by consumers through their energy bills. Because of this, we need to operate efficiently to ensure that all of our investments are justified. This means we are unable to offer community benefits for local areas, in the way that other developers may do.

Independent of the North West Coast Connections project, we operate an initiative called ‘Bringing Energy to Life’. This centrally managed scheme provides grants on a discretionary basis for charities, community groups, social enterprises and non-profit organisations operating within an area affected by National Grid’s activities.

This fund is designed to support projects that meet local community needs in the following areas:

  • Social benefits;
  • Economic benefits; and
  • Environmental benefits.

For details about the scheme, and to apply online, please visit: http://betl.nationalgrid.com. You can also contact the Community Helpline for more information, which is available during office hours on 01285 841912.

We have paused activity on the project in a sensible way so we are able to restart in the future.

We need to understand NuGen’s programme, when they are looking to submit their DCO and require their connection before we can restart our project.

We are fully committed to letting people know as soon as we can about our work and how we plan to move forward with NuGen’s connection.

At the moment we are pausing our application to better understand NuGen’s timeline and to make sure our projects are broadly running in parallel. We can’t give a submission date right now, but we will let people know more as soon as we can.

As the project is currently paused it is unlikely that there will be any news until we have a clearer idea of NuGen’s programme and are considering restarting our work.

You can still contact the project by emailing nationalgrid@northwestcoastconnections.com or calling us on 0800 876 6990.

If you have not already registered your details with us you can do so on the Register page. By registering you will receive any updates we issue about the project in the future.

Project Films

We’ve developed a series of four films to help you learn more about the North West Coast Connections Project and the technology we’re proposing to use.


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If you have an interest in land that you believe might be affected by the NWCC Project you can find more information on our document page in the section called 'Materials for landowners and occupiers'

Register your details to receive updates on the project

Register your contact details with us to receive updates on the progress of the project. Doing so will enable us to notify you when the Planning Inspectorate has acknowledged receipt of our application for consent.

There are lots of ways to contact us and find out more about the NWCC Project:

Register for text alerts:
Text NWCC to 80800

Call our freephone number: 0800 876 6990

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