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Undersea power cable soldiers on despite WWII bombs

Unexploded bombs, mines, ordinances & downed aircraft are scattered at the bottom of the sea

A large-scale energy interconnector project linking the United Kingdom to mainland Europe is pressing on, despite the discovery of wartime bombs and mines in the cable’s path.

An energy project worth nearly €700m, which is intended to connect the UK’s national grid to power markets in Denmark and Norway, is having to contend with unexploded bombs, mines, ordinances and downed aircraft.

The Nemo Link, which began construction in late 2015, is nearly halfway complete and is due to come online in 2019. But its planned route crosses one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and the venue for some of the most violent fighting during World War II: the Channel.

After surveys found dozens of wartime explosives on the seabed and floating in the water, the project’s backers called in the navies of Belgium, France and the UK in order to deal with the bombs and mines. This has mostly involved controlled explosions rather than removing the objects.

Nemo Link Project Director Mike Elmer told The Guardian that a 14th century ship found in French waters could have seriously delayed construction had it been discovered on the cable’s route, as it is now being treated as an archaeological find by the authorities.

He explained that “as soon as they designate [it] as archaeology, a 100-metre exclusion zone is put through the whole thing”.

The 80-mile interconnector will stay largely on course despite the deadly discoveries but will avoid parts of the wreckage of an aircraft, which could potentially be a war grave.

The UK currently has four interconnectors and eight more, including the Nemo Link, are in the works. Britain is currently increasing the amount of energy it generates from renewables and these undersea cables are an effective way of guaranteeing energy supply.

Recently, the EU announced significant funding for an interconnector that will link France with Ireland and has been dubbed the ‘Brexit cable’, due to its target of reducing the Republic’s energy dependence on the UK.

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