The National Grid has chosen a corridor running overland around the coast of Cumbria and under Morecambe Bay for connecting NuGen's proposed 3.4GW nuclear plant at Moorside and other sources of electricity to the grid.
A route running mainly offshore was ruled out due to obstacles on the seabed and concerns about the use of offshore HVDC (high voltage direct current) cables, which have not been used to connect a nuclear power station before.
National Grid, which has been working on the North West Coast Connections project for five years, now says that work can get underway planning the exact route of the power line, the technologies that will be used to build it and the methods that can be used to reduce its impact on the landscape.
The grid operator has recently appointed SLR Consulting to carry out environmental impact assessments for the project. SLR is tasked with coordinating a team of internal and external consultants, developing the landscape and visual impact assessments, socio-economic assessments and the creation of a virtual reality model of the proposed alignment.
National Grid aims to submit an application to build the new connection to the Planning Inspectorate in 2017. If consent is granted, construction work is expected to start in 2019. National Grid is required to provide NuGen with the first phase of the connection into its transmission network by 2024.
Commenting on the news last week, a NuGen spokesman said: "This is excellent news for our Moorside project. We too are currently engaged in public consultations in Cumbria on our early-stage proposals for the power station, and we are getting valuable and useful feedback from local people."
Once up and running the three reactors at Moorside are expected to supply around 7% of the UK's low-carbon electricity.