Publication of an independent study into the comparative costs of installing high voltage transmission cables in England and Wales has been postponed following a hiatus which has seen the lead consultancy ending its involvement in the exercise.
International energy consultancy KEMA was commissioned to collect and analyse the latest data on the costs of installing power cables underground, sub-sea or as overhead lines.
Originally the work was due to be completed by the end of February. National Grid had agreed to fund the study and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) was invited to provide quality assurance. Now the work is unlikely to be available until the end of the year.
The study was seen as critical on a number of fronts. National Grid was keen to feed it into its review of undergrounding policy. Consultation on that is now due to end on 4 July as a result of the non-appearance of the study.
The Infrastructure Planning Commission wanted the study to help its assessment of major transmission schemes currently in the pipeline. Objectors in Suffolk and Somerset have been arguing that there was evidence from projects on mainland Europe which indicated that the costs of undergrounding were significantly lower than National Grid has maintained.
In a statement the IET said “insufficient data was provided to KEMA to enable them to produce a report that KEMA was satisfied with or the IET could endorse”.
Ian Gambles, director of operations for the IPC, said: “Our priority is to have a high-quality, independent report available to us by the time we begin examining applications for development consent for transmission lines. This is not expected to be until 2012, so the proposal to complete the study and produce a report later this year gives us no cause for concern.”
9 June 2011