T&D World Magazine

Public Update on Western Link Cabling Project, UK

National Grid and ScottishPower Transmission are inviting people to come and find out what to expect in 2014 as activity increases to install a new 33-km high voltage underground electricity cable across the Wirral peninsula and build a new electricity converter station on Deeside Industrial Park.

The underground cable and converter station are needed as part of the Western Link, a joint venture between the two companies to build one of the world’s longest undersea power cables to help bring renewable energy from Scotland to homes and businesses in England and Wales. The cable transmits direct current electricity, and the converter station changes this to alternating current for use in homes and businesses.

WirralWork started last year to prepare for cable installation and to build the converter station. For the cable, work concentrated at the top of the route, from Leasowe down to the Thornton Hough area, and on the preparations needed to bring the cable ashore at Leasowe. Main site earthworks were completed for the converter station and civil construction began.

There has been minimal work during the winter but in April, people will see an increase in activity as work starts again. To let people know what two expect, two public information events were held in the Pensby and Burton areas. A newsletter has been sent to people along the cable route and close to the converter station to let them know about the events.

Graham Edwards, Western Link Project Manager said: “Our main work takes place during the spring, summer and autumn months and people are likely to see a lot of activity this year from April onwards. I’d encourage anyone interested to come and talk to our project team at the open events about this essential project.

“To construct the cable along the Wirral, our contractor will need to establish a temporary working corridor, around 20-m wide, which will be fenced off while it is being used. Within this corridor, two cables will be installed in a single trench.

“The cables will be laid in sections around 1 km long, with joints where the sections meet. The corridor will also include a temporary road for moving equipment and will be used to store material removed from the trench dug for the cable and to install drainage. In some areas large lay-bys will be constructed for the delivery of the cable, which arrives on large drums.”

The Western Link is being delivered by a consortium of Siemens and Prysmian, with Prysmian responsible for the Wirral cable installation work, including all preparations and reinstatement, and Siemens for the construction of the converter stations at each end of the link.

The cable will come ashore at Leasowe in the north of the Wirral, continuing underground to the east of Heswall and Neston before turning south-west to run between Burton and Puddington towards Deeside Industrial Park, where the new converter station is being built. Cables will then be laid under the River Dee to connect to National Grid’s site at Deeside, where the electricity will flow into the existing transmission system.

Plans this year include bringing the marine cable ashore at Leasowe and continuing to create the temporary corridor across the Wirral within which most of the work for cable installation will take place. Jointing and laying the sections of cable will start this year.

The cable will be laid mainly in agricultural fields, avoiding environmental designations such as Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Where sensitive areas of woodland cannot be avoided, special techniques will be used to drill underneath them. In some areas there are individual mature trees and in many cases, the contractor will be able to alter the path of the cable to avoid these trees and their roots, although this will not be feasible on every occasion.

Construction of the converter station on Deeside Industrial Park started in June 2013 and will take approximately three years. The project is expected to be complete by the autumn of 2016.

Graham added: “Over the next decade, the country must make the major investment needed to deliver energy security. This project is just one step towards meeting the challenge to modernize and extend the country’s existing energy infrastructure to ensure energy security in years to come and help meet the UK’s carbon reduction targets.”

A series of maps showing the route the cable will take can be viewed on the project website
 

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