A COMPANY planning an undersea powerline between Ireland and Wales has defended its plans after residents were concerned it will damage the beach at Freshwater West.

A petition to stop the construction of power cables by Greenlink Interconnector under Freshwater West has gained almost 5,000 signatures since it was started last Wednesday (April 3).

The petition, which was started by Neil Adams, asks for any construction and disruption at the beach to be stopped.

Mr Adams said: “The beach to the locals is the ‘best beach in the world’ and is loved by many people from all over the world.

“The construction if approved would take three years, including construction in the bay, on the beach, sand dunes, and then a route from Freshwater West to the power station.”

In response to concerns raised in the petition, Tom Brinicombe, Greenlink’s planning manager for Wales, said the company wants to minimise the impact on the beach.

Mr Brinicombe clarified that while the project would take three years to complete, work at Freshwater West would last around three months with no restrictions to the beach during construction.

He said:“As we have stated throughout the development process and at our public exhibitions, the cable will be under the sea or below ground for its entire length from the substation in Ireland to the substation in Wales.

“The marine cable is laid under the seabed (or covered by undersea rock in places) and when it comes ashore at Freshwater West beach it will be buried all the way to Pembroke substation.

“Once this is complete, the cabling will be invisible and there will be no fencing or any other permanent structures restricting access,” he added.

Mr Brinicombe confirmed there would be no overhead powerlines.

Angela Burns Conservative AM for south Pembrokeshire was positive about the plans, she said: “I have had regular contact with the developer who has kept me updated with their construction plans and I remain convinced that the project is good for the area.

“I do not recognise the picture painted by the petition currently being circulated concerning the proposed works at Freshwater West and have been reassured by the developer that any disruption to local residents and visitors to the area will be kept to an absolute minimum”.

Commenting on the local consultation process Mr Brinicombe added that the company is keen to hear people’s views on the project.

He said: “Our consultation so far has included seven public exhibitions in Pembrokeshire since last May and meetings with statutory authorities, community representatives and local organisations.

“At each of these and in our materials we have given detailed information on the proposed design, the ecological considerations and the surveys we are undertaking and have asked for feedback.”

The company said they have also conducted a full environmental impact assessment, which will be verified by Natural Resources Wales.

“I encourage local people to attend our next set of consultation events to share their views on the proposed design, including the preferred cable route and converter station location, or to contact

us at any time if they have any concerns.”

Full details of the project, including a calendar of consultation events, can be found on the project website greenlink.ie

The petition against construction can be found at change.org/p/pembrokeshire-coast-national-park-authority-save-freshwater-west-beach-from-construction