The first planning applications have been submitted for the Greenlink interconnector, which will connect Wales and Ireland.
The two applications concern the offshore aspects of the project, with the Foreshore Licence application submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s Foreshore Unit in Ireland, and the Marine Licence application submitted to Natural Resources Wales.
This marks a major milestone for the project, which will see underwater cables run from Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire to Baginbun beach in Co Wexford. It is hoped that the project will increase energy security, provide jobs and improve cost-effective integration of low carbon energy on both sides of the Irish Sea.
The project director for Greenlink Interconnector Limited, Angus Norman, welcomed the submission as a “major milestone for the development of the project, marking the start of the consenting process.
“It represents the culmination of a considerable amount of technical, environmental and commercial analysis to design a project of the highest quality with valuable input from a range of stakeholders.
“Along with the recent signing of our grid connection agreement with EirGrid – another significant milestone – the Greenlink project is on a clear pathway towards the start of construction. We look forward to helping Ireland and the UK realise the benefits of greater interconnection – for regional jobs and supply chain, energy security, competition and decarbonisation.”
Agreements have already been signed with both National Grid in Britain and EirGrid in Ireland regarding the power from the interconnector. The procurement of construction contracts are currently underway.
There will now be a period of public consultation, with exhibitions held in both Wexford and Pembrokeshire before the end of the year, although the date is yet to be set. Stakeholders are being encouraged to comment online on the applications, before 8 January 2020.
Further applications will follow these, regarding onshore aspects such as the substations and underground cables the project will need in time.
The cable will have a nominal capacity of 500MW, and construction is expected to begin in 2020 before commissioning in 2023. The project is considered of great importance to both Britain and Ireland, as such is has been granted "Project of Common Interest (PCI)" status by the European Commission.
The Greenlink Interconnector will be the third to connect Britain and Ireland, with the Moyle Interconnector and the East-West Connector already operational. Ireland also has an interconnector project underway with France, that will see east Cork connected to northeast Brittany.