Geologist at Morecambe Bay

Looking at the rock of the Bay

Geologists to pore over Grid data

Rock samples 300 million-years-old taken from a famous English landmark are being analysed to help decide the route of a major new project.

The findings of the National Grid survey will give a fascinating insight into the geological make-up of Morecambe Bay in Lancashire through the ages.

Some of the samples have been sent for microscopic analysis and carbon dating and National Grid has offered to share the samples and information with the British Geological Survey.

Morecambe Bay
The huge Bay covers 310 square kilometres, making it the second largest bay in Britain after The Wash

It’s all part of a project that will help determine the route of a proposed tunnel to carry electricity cables under the Bay as part of the North West Coast Connections project.

The first major survey in the area for five decades, it is being carried out to connect the proposed nuclear power station at Moorside, West Cumbria, to the electricity network.

National Grid engineer studies rock formation
National Grid engineers worked closely with experts from engineering firm Fugro

Geologists and historians will study the data compiled by engineering firm Fugro, whose engineers have been drilling boreholes over the last two months

The results give an insight into the conditions that make the bay hospitable to wildlife, showing how habitats renew to allow small crustaceans to survive. They also show layers from different eras, ranging from the last Ice Age to as far back as 300 million years ago.

The Bay is one of the most important wildlife sites in Europe, boasting bird life and diverse marine habitats. At the last count a quarter of a million waders, wildfowl, and gulls winter or breed or pass through here on their migration. This sand and mud is crammed with juicy worms, tiny crustaceans and shellfish which the birds feed on.

We hope our findings provide an interesting and valuable insight into the Bay

Salt marshes, which encourage a unique community of plants, can also be found all round the bay.

These were the first major surveys carried out in Morecambe Bay since 1968 and the first to ever be carried out in this part of the bay.

Boats in Morecambe Bay

Robert Powell, National Grid project manager, said: “As well as providing valuable analysis for the NWCC project, these surveys have given us the opportunity to uncover fascinating information about Morecambe Bay.

“We’re also delighted to be able to share our findings with the British Geological Survey.  We hope that they provide an interesting and valuable insight into the Bay.”

Details of the latest proposals will be made publicly available throughout a consultation later this year.

The proposals National Grid will be consulting on will provide details on where and how to build a new connection going:

•  North from Moorside to a point on the existing network at Harker, near Carlisle, and

•  South from Moorside across the Barrow Peninsula, through a tunnel which goes under Morecambe Bay and surfaces at an existing substation in Middleton, near Heysham in Lancashire, where it can connect into the existing network.

People wanting information about the consultation and the proposed connection design can register their details on the North West Coast Connections project website: www.northwestcoastconnections.com

Or register for text alerts by texting ‘NWCC’ to 80800 to receive notification when information about the project becomes available.

For any other enquiries, contact the project team at nationalgrid@northwestcoastconnections.com