LONDON (Reuters) - National Grid has put on hold development consent for a proposed power line connecting Britain’s transmission network to the Moorside nuclear project in northwest England, in another blow to the project.
National Grid said it had paused its work to approve the 2.8 billion pounds ($3.6 billion) North West Coast Connections project following Moorside developer NuGen’s decision to carry out a strategic review.
The nuclear project has been in doubt since Japan’s Toshiba Corp pulled out of the construction work in February after its Westinghouse unit filed for bankruptcy. French energy group Engie also pulled out of the project, exercising its right to sell its 40 percent stake in NuGen to Toshiba.
NuGen has said the strategic review of the 10 billion pound Moorside project was due to “shareholder and vendor challenges”.
“As a result of focussing their efforts on this review, NuGen are pausing work on their development consent order for Moorside,” National Grid said.
“In light of this, we have decided to pause our work to consent NuGen’s connection and take the time to understand NuGen’s programme to make sure our projects are aligned,” it added.
The grid operator said the consents should run in parallel so the Planning Inspectorate can examine the consent application for the connection line knowing there is a strong need for it.
“Despite this pause, we are confident the connection will still be ready when NuGen requires it and are continuing to work closely with them,” it added.
Britain needs to invest in new infrastructure to replace ageing coal and nuclear plants set to close in the 2020s, but has struggled to get large projects built, especially nuclear, due to the costs involved.
EDF’s 18 billion pound Hinkley Point C nuclear project in southwest England got the final go-ahead in 2016 after several years of delay, but only after securing backing from the French government.
Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Susan Thomas