In the UK, investment in new sources of energy is a vital part of securing supplies and controlling prices. When a proposal to develop a new nuclear power station in Cumbria required new grid connections, our multidisciplinary team resolved the significant planning issues to create workable options.
Craig Hatch, Project Director, takes up the story: "WYG was already on a Cumbria Country Council (the lead PPA authority) Framework. We also have extensive nuclear programme and project management, town & country planning and environmental experience in the region. So when the authorities potentially affected by the scheme, which became known as North West Coast Connections, set up a Planning Performance Agreement with National Grid, they appointed us to help coordinate the project."
"We deliver a client side role combining programme management and technical services, which the authority recognises and we have provided a wide range of other specialist services, particularly in planning, landscaping and ecology."
Navigating through natural beauty
The existing grid infrastructure does not have the capacity to bring power from a new nuclear plant into the national grid. The potential routes for the new infrastructure pass through areas of natural beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Hadrian’s Wall. Craig Hatch explains his team’s approach: “It is complicated and sensitive, and there are important constraints whether you go round the coast or under the sea. The project initially looked at six potential corridors, which were then narrowed down to three."
"We are there to support all the authorities, and have worked closely with them to help look after their different interests. For example, the local and county authorities have a distinctly different perspective to the Lake District National Park."
"Overall, we provided well-informed technical support for a planning negotiation as well as the resources to plug gaps where the authorities themselves are constrained."
Assessing the broader picture
As well as supporting the new infrastructure through the planning process, our team has helped with other projects, particularly in Cumbria where there is significant investment in energy.
Craig concludes: "We have looked at infrastructure in general, including offshore and onshore wind farms and a number of other projects, such as biomass. We’ve been able to provide a range of skills that a single authority would struggle to cover."
"In all our work, we record information accurately and explain it factually and professionally. That’s the most effective way to help."