Heysham pensioners tell of Bay tunnel fears

Barrie Turner who is worried about the route a new underground power cable might take near his house at Heysham.
Barrie Turner who is worried about the route a new underground power cable might take near his house at Heysham.

“We’ve got enough disruption with traffic, we don’t need more with tunnels.”

Barrie Turner shudders at the very idea of a major new power cable tunnel going directly underneath his house.

Councillor Carla Brayshaw.

Councillor Carla Brayshaw.

Electricity giants National Grid have told Barrie that their planned £2.8bn connection under Morecambe Bay may pass close to his home.

“We’ve been here 32 years,” said Barrie, 68, who lives in Heysham with his wife Rita.

“I’m not against building for the future but not underneath people’s houses.

“I’ve asked them what happens if there’s damage to my property?

A map of Heysham showing where the extended substation and new tunnel head will go (blue triangle) close to the existing substation (black triangle) and the route of the new underground tunnel (purple dash line).

A map of Heysham showing where the extended substation and new tunnel head will go (blue triangle) close to the existing substation (black triangle) and the route of the new underground tunnel (purple dash line).

“I worry the drilling might cause damage to the road because of vibrations.

“I’m also worried about extra heavy traffic on the road. HGVs pass by every day coming from and to the port and the power
 station.”

National Grid plans to connect a proposed new nuclear power station at Moorside, near Sellafield in Cumbria, to the existing electricity substation at Middleton, by running a tunnel under Morecambe Bay. Building work may begin in 2019.

Pensioner Margaret Dean, Barrie’s neighbour, is also concerned.

“They want you to give them all sorts of information and fill a form in but I don’t know enough about it,” said Margaret, who has lived in her house, built by her grandfather Thomas Wilson, all her life.

“The main worry is them coming under my house. How can they do that?”

Barrie went to a National Grid public consultation event at Heysham Library last month and asked officials several questions. He came away still feeling worried.

“I spoke to a drilling expert who said we’ve drilled under London with no problems.

“But I’m not interested in London, I live here.

“It’s causing a lot of stress and worry to a lot of people. We don’t need it at our time of life.”

Lancaster City Council is also concerned about work to build the ‘tunnel head’ at Middleton about a quarter of a mile from Barrie and Margaret’s homes.

The temporary works will include slurry treatment tanks and a fitters yard across the road from the existing substation. The council has written to National Grid to express its concerns.

At a meeting on Monday, Lancaster City Council’s planning manager Mark Cassidy said: “There’s nothing other than this plan to alert residents to the intensity of this proposal.”

Coun Carla Brayshaw said: “I do feel very strongly that a clear message needs to be sent back to National Grid. These are six years’ worth of temporary works. There will potentially be a huge impact on people’s lives.”

We contacted National Grid who sent us this statement.

“During our current consultation on the North West Coast Connections project, we have shared detailed information on our proposals for a tunnel under Morecambe Bay and the equipment we’ll need to connect it into the electricity network. This can be found on our website www.northwestcoastconnections.com and all the documents on the website can also be found in hard copy form at Morecambe Library. We are welcoming feedback on our proposals until 5pm on Friday, January 6 2017.

“We would encourage people to use this process to highlight factors they think it is important for us to take into account during the construction process. While we have provided information on many aspects of the tunnel, its design and the way in which we would seek to mitigate the impacts of its construction on communities, landscapes and habitats, we will not be able to provide specific detail regarding elements of this part of the project until contractors have been appointed to build it.

“Work on the tunnel and the tunnel head will create supply chain opportunities and jobs in this area and we have already set up a mechanism by which local businesses can register their details to be notified of opportunities on the project. Talks continue with local authorities and rail, highways and port operators to develop solutions for moving workers and materials to construction sites.

“We are committed to continuing to talk to communities, local authorities and key bodies as our project continues to take shape over the coming months and years.”

For your full guide to National Grid’s proposals for the tunnel see HERE