Wales politics

Third Menai crossing study to look at adding power cables

Photo of the first Menai Strait bridge, built in the early 19th Century Image copyright Ian Warburton / Geograph
Image caption The first Menai Bridge was built in the early 19th Century

A new study will look at whether a third Menai Strait crossing could also carry power cables from a planned new nuclear power station.

The Welsh Government wants to combine plans for a £135m road crossing with National Grid's proposals for its own power link to Wylfa Newydd.

The new study will examine whether a combined scheme would deliver value for money.

Opposition parties welcome the idea, but said ministers must act swiftly.

There are currently two Menai Strait crossings - the Menai Bridge, which was built by Thomas Telford in the 1820s, and Robert Stephenson's Britannia Bridge, which was opened to carry rail traffic in 1850 but was rebuilt in the 20th century to also carry road traffic.

Last year, options for a new crossing - which would aim to reduce congestion - were put to the public.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption It is hoped that a new Menai crossing would reduce congestion on the Britannia Bridge

National Grid senior project manager Gareth Williams said such a scheme could present challenges in terms of "construction programme, cost and technical delivery."

He added: "We'll continue to move ahead with our current plans for a tunnel as our customer, Horizon, requires a connection by the mid-2020s."

Ken Skates, Welsh Government economy secretary, said the study will examine "in detail the potential opportunities, challenges and obstacles" to making a shared third Menai crossing a reality.

"The third Menai crossing is a huge investment project which has the potential to make a big difference in supporting the needs of communities and visitors, tackling congestion issues and providing a boost to the economy," he added.

Image caption Ken Skates said a third crossing has the potential to make a "big difference" to communities

Last year, First Minister Carwyn Jones told AMs a decision on the route of the new crossing would be made by May.

The combined crossing study - to be run jointly by National Grid and Welsh Government but paid for by the latter - was welcomed by the Welsh Conservatives.

However, a party spokesman said: "We can ill-afford further delays. It's been more than a decade since a Welsh Government-commissioned report identified eight options, including a new bridge, but didn't go forward to delivery."

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales regional AM, said combining the two projects could make the third crossing more feasible.

"It would be silly to have a situation where the grid is being potentially sunk under the Menai and then this work is being done. If they can mutually complement each other the more the better I think," he added.

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