Cabling under Lincolnshire to bring electricity from Denmark to the UK

A Britned cable laying vessel.
A Britned cable laying vessel.
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Controversial plans to bring electricity from Denmark to the UK, digging up a lengthy strip of Lincolnshire in the process, are moving forward.

The so-called ‘Viking Link’ would see an electricity interconnector being laid over a distance of 740km from Denmark to the National Grid’s substation at Bicker Fen.

The estimated €2 billion scheme would involve a 650km undersea cable between Denmark and the Lincolnshire coast and then an underground cable to a converter station, somewhere in the Bicker Fen area, that would convert the electricity from direct current to alternating current – the type used in the UK.

This convertor station – and its associated equipment – would be expected to cover an area of four-five hectares (or about 10 acres).

Further underground cabling would then be needed to connect the station to the substation.

The project is being developed by National Grid Viking Link Limited and, the Danish national transmission system operator for electricity and natural gas.

They point to a number of benefits:

* It would enable more competition in the energy market, which in turn should have a positive impact on energy prices.

* It would help meet the UK’s energy needs by providing access to additional sources of power.

* It would help tackle greenhouse gas emissions and meet environmental targets by enabling the UK to tap into low carbon generation from Denmark and neighbouring countries.

The project has been in the offing for some time, but now the technical parameters have been agreed between the partners and surveys are set to begin to help decide the route between Denmark and Bicker Fen.

The cabling corridor on shore would be about 15 metres wide.

A public consultation is expected to follow next year.

Concern over the Viking Link project has been raised by Lincolnshire County Council as part of a public consultation over a separate energy scheme.

The authority has submitted its formal response to plans to develop the onshore infrastructure needed for the Triton Knoll offshore wind farm off the coast of Skegness.

As part of this, it raised concern over the impact of the projects.

Coun Colin Davie, executive member for environment and planning, said: “Each of these projects is likely to have significant impact on the local landscape and the local tourism industry. Combined, the consequences could be disastrous for the community.

“In addition, there seems to be no co-ordination between the two, meaning even greater disruption for residents.

“It’s ridiculous to have one developer go in and dig everything up, only to have a second do it all again a few months later.”

He added: “If the worst comes to the worst and both projects do get the green light, we would ask that considerable pressure is put on both developers to work together to save time, money and public anger.”

In response, a spokesman for the National Grid said: “We understand people’s concerns. The impact on local people of any proposals we put forward will be an important consideration for us.

“Our project is still in its early stages and we are not making any assumptions about where the cables will come ashore or the routes they will take.

“We will need to carry out detailed environmental and marine surveys, technical studies and full public consultation before we can confirm landing points and routes.

“Over the coming months we expect to appoint consultants to begin these surveys and we would expect to carry out public consultation during 2016. We will, of course, take into account the impact of other developments in the area as part of our planning application.”

He added: “Triton Knoll and Viking Link are at very different stages and it is still much too early to determine when we would begin building Viking Link if the project was given planning permission.

However, where possible, we will co-operate with other developers in the area to minimise disruption for local residents and businesses.”