The National Grid is consulting on a cross Morecambe Bay cable tunnel to link a new nuclear power station at Sellafield with the main electricity transmission network.
David Morris, Morecambe’s MP thinks it would be a good idea to enlarge it into a road tunnel. This would be 15 miles long and rival Norway’s Laerdal Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in the world.
This proposal seems to be designed more to gain our beleaguered MP some publicity than it being a serious, practical proposal. His own Tory colleague, Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, has suggested that he contact Local Enterprise Partnerships, describing the MP’s tunnel as “a bold vision”. Those of us old enough to remember Yes Minister will know what using the term ‘bold vision’ really means.
At a National Grid consultation event I asked about Mr Morris’s tunnel. The National Grid have done some costings and to build a tunnel just to carry the cable would be in the region or £600m – £700m. They haven’t produced any costs for a road or rail link because “they don’t build roads”. They said they’d be happy to talk to anyone who wanted to work in partnership with them to do this. However, no-one has approached them.
Mr Morris suggests that a road tunnel would help our local hospitals by speeding up patient transfers. It’s good to know that he has finally realised that they are in difficulty; but they can be better supported by his Government than by this – an improved funding settlement would be a start.
I wonder if Mr Morris has given any thoughts to the costs of upgrading a cable tunnel to road/rail? I imagine these would be considerable. How would it be paid for? I doubt whether there would be enough traffic that a toll would fund it. Should we be spending public funds on such a white elephant when other public services such as our NHS are in desperate need of money?
I suggest Mr Morris looks to support key services for the people of Morecambe and Lunesdale rather than publicity seeking.