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Local authorities in Cumbria and Lancashire have agreed to work closely with National Grid to ensure local communities are informed of plans to upgrade and reinforce the existing electricity transmission system to connect new power generating sources in the North West, and that their views are captured and taken into account as the project develops.
A total of 16 local authorities and the Lake District National Park Authority have signed the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) which sets out how local communities and decision makers will be engaged in the planning process that will help shape proposals for the North West Coast Connections project.
Cumbria County Council has agreed to be the accountable body for the PPA, but the following authorities have all signed up to the agreement:
Cumbria County Council
Lancashire County Council
Wyre Borough Council
Preston City Council
Burnley Borough Council
Hyndburn Borough Council
Chorley Borough Council
South Ribble Borough Council
Lancaster City Council
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
Allerdale Borough Council
Carlisle City Council
Eden District Council
Copeland Borough Council
South Lakeland District Council
Lake District National Park Authority
The PPA will ensure that the right organisations are round the table to give their views on a project that will eventually be considered for development consent by the National Infrastructure Directorate (NID) within the Planning Inspectorate (formerly the Infrastructure Planning Commission IPC).
National Grid is required to provide a secure connection into the electricity transmission system for new energy projects in the North West. These include a proposed new nuclear power station – Moorside, near Sellafield in West Cumbria - and a number of offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea. Delivering these new connections is essential to ensure energy security in the years to come whilst also meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets.
Cllr Tim Knowles, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member responsible for environment, said:
"The work of National Grid will be an essential part of the jigsaw which could be assembled in Cumbria and Lancashire as part of the multi-billion pound investment in the country's future energy generating infrastructure.
We all know how essential this is so that Britain can keep its lights on in future decades. We also know the scale of the economic boost that these projects could bring in terms of job generation. But it is not the job of local authorities to make sure these projects just get the green light. We need to ensure that the right level of local engagement and scrutiny takes place. I look forward to working closely with both National Grid and our local authority partners in these exciting times."
Peter Fendley, Senior Project Manager, of National Grid, said:
“National Grid is at the heart of delivering Britain’s energy system. It’s our job to connect people to the energy they use, so delivery of this project will be an important step towards meeting the challenge to modernise and extend the country’s existing energy infrastructure.”
“As a company we are committed to consulting widely to ensure that we are taking forward an application that addresses local concerns whilst also fulfilling the need to deliver a secure network to power homes, schools, hospitals and businesses in Cumbria and beyond.”
“Councils will play a crucial role in facilitating local engagement. Putting in place and funding a PPA means we can better establish a productive working partnership with local authorities which ensures that, whilst being fully involved in the development process every step of the way, they are also recompensed for the time and effort they spend dedicating the appropriate levels of resource to this project.”
Following two years of extensive work and research, National Grid has identified six potential options to make the connections needed in Cumbria.
Details of these options will shortly available on the project website: www.northwestcoastconnections.com where people can also register their details to ensure they get regular updates on the North West Coast Connections project as it progresses.