Cross-channel power project heading for Budleigh

PUBLISHED: 12:30 04 August 2015

Lime Kiln in Budleigh.

Lime Kiln in Budleigh.

Archant

A multi-million pound project to transfer electricity between Britain and France could see a major new cable coming through Budleigh, it has been revealed.

The FAB project is planning to lay a 220km cross-Channel cable from France, via Aldenrey in the Channel Islands, which will reach the British mainland at Budleigh beach.

The cable will have the capacity to carry 1400MW of electricity – for comparison, more than the capacity of Hinkley Power Station.

The cable would be installed by digging down through Lime Kiln car park, and out under the beach, to pick up the cable, which will be laid a metre below the seabed.

The intention is for the cable, which would be around 125mm in diameter, to connect to the National Grid north of Exeter Airport, and there is not yet a plan for how it will cross the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other countryside in between.

However, project development manager Chris Jenner, of Transmission Investment, which is developing the project with French grid company RTE and Alderney-based tidal power developer ARE, insists that the cable - known as an interconnector - will have ‘the lowest possible environmental impact’.

He said: “We already have interconnectors from the UK to Europe, but don’t have enough, and the Government has recognised we need more interconnectors to enable free flow of electricity between cheaper countries to contribute to cheaper electricity.

“It is a major project, in terms of it will have big benefits to the UK in terms of giving us cheaper electricity and improving the resilience of the National Grid, but incredibly low impact in terms of infrastructure.

“It will be underground and sub-sea – no new pylons.”

Mr Jenner said it was common for such cables to follow roads, but no decision had been made.

He added: “At the moment, we are working very closely with onshore and offshore statutory agencies, including county, district and parish councils, at this very early design stage of the project, to ensure it will have the lowest possible environmental impact.”

The plan is for initial survey work at Lime Kiln later this year, before a full public consultation next year.

If the scheme gets the go-ahead, work at Budleigh is likely to take place in 2018 for two to three months in the car park, but the beach should be unaffected.

Town mayor Courtney Richards said that having met with Mr Jenner, he was fairly relaxed about the proposal, saying: “By and large, the visual impact on Budleigh Salterton should be zip.”

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