Agreement has now been reached between Wirral Council and the National Grid that will signal the start of the next phase of work on the Western Link, a £1 billion subsea cable project that will help bring renewable energy from Scotland to homes and businesses in England and Wales.
The agreement will ensure that people continue to have access to Wallasey Embankment, Leasowe Common and the North Wirral foreshore while work takes place, and that conditions are imposed to minimise the impact of work on migrating birds.
A specialist cable construction company will now start early preparation work as a precursor to work beginning on the main cable construction later this year. This involves a high voltage main cable being laid underground 33km through Wirral to Connah’s Quay.
Cllr Brian Kenny, Wirral’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “Wirral supports and has been working very positively with the Western Link project which will increase the amount of energy generated by renewable sources such as wind and water.
“This agreement not only facilitates the next phase of the project, but very importantly seeks to help protect local birdlife, and the rights of local people to continue using our much loved coastline amenities without impediment.
“The North Wirral Foreshore is protected as an official Site of Special Scientific Interest. This agreement means that although the project has the right to work in the area, there will be certain conditions imposed on when and how that work takes place to ensure that there is minimal impact on migrating birds and on the environment.
“It also ensures that members of the public and all other authorised users’ rights of access to Leasowe Common, the foreshore, and the sea wall, are not impeded during the work or at any time in the future.”
Leasowe Common is managed by Wirral Council. It will remain as common land during and after installation of the underground cables. Although the land will not be owned by National Grid, the company will have the right to install, keep, maintain and repair the cables and equipment on condition that Leasowe Common is not restricted at any time, and that wherever possible, public car parking spaces are not used.
Working with Mersey Environmental Advisory Service, the Council has agreed seasonal limitations and conditions to mitigate the effect on migrating birds visiting the North Wirral foreshore. Work within recognised inshore feeding areas will also be subject to seasonal limitations and mitigation measures.
Project Director Graham Edwards said: “The Western Link is an incredibly important project for the UK, and will help the country meet its climate change commitments. We are working very constructively with Wirral Council to deliver the project.
“Before main cable construction begins, the project will hold a series of public information events to let people know the details of what is planned across Wirral. We will write to local people and advertise these nearer to the time that construction starts.
“In the meantime, if people have queries about the project they should visit our website - www.westernhvdclink.co.uk – or contact our dedicated Community Relations Team on 0800 021 7878 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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