Nemo Link team discovered 985 potential unexploded bombs on cable link route to Pegwell

One of the controlled explosions at Pegwell Photo Malcolm Kirkaldie

An update of the Nemo Link project – to lay high voltage electricity cables under the sea between the former Ricborough Towers site and Herdersbrug in Belgium – has revealed 985 unexploded sea-mines and/or wartime bombs (UXOs) were examined on the route.

The project, which involves subsea cables coming ashore at the service station area at Pegwell Bay, close to where the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm cables come ashore. Once onshore, the underground cables will be routed through the Pegwell Bay Country Park and beneath the road from BayPoint Sports Club to the Richborough site.

The project aims to give both countries improved reliability and access to electricity and sustainable generation.

On the UK side,  cables have been laid between the UK converter station site at Richborough and Pegwell Bay, through the country park. This had to be done before the trigger of the next phase of works: the submarine cable installation in the UK and part of French waters.


A survey and investigation works were undertaken to assess the safety of the cable route. This work uncovered a number of items of archaeological interest and unexploded ordinance.

At a public event at the Royal Temple Yacht Club in Ramsgate on August 17 the Nemo Link team  said the survey detected 12,000 anomalies with 1,200 found on the 130km subsea cable route judged to be potential UXOs. Further analysis created a list of 985 potential UXOs that had to be examined.

The team said: “The physical inspection of the 985 targets has been carried out using diving robots in deep water areas or divers when robots cannot be submerged because of shallow water.

“A Target Investigate Report is then produced for each target and a Report of Find submitted to the relevant country’s authority.

“If an object is confirmed as a UXO in Belgian or French waters, it is disposed of by the relevant Marine Authority depending on its location.

Photo Malcolm Kirkaldie

“In the UK, the Royal Navy disposes of UXOs if it is considered to pose an imminent threat to the waters. In all other cases, the Nemo Link team works with special contractors to neutralise the UXOs.

“20 have been confirmed as UXOs so far. Most have now been neutralised.”

Several controlled explosions took place at the Pegwell/Cliffsend site this Summer.

Photo Nathan Coade

Ramsgate gained a reputation as the most bombed seaside town in the First World War, suffering numerous Zeppelin and Gotha bomber raids and being shelled several times from the sea. The action prompted the building of the Ramsgate Tunnels, which sheltered civilians through the Second World War.

The isle was also targeted heavily in that conflict, suffering a bombing blitz in August 1940.

Nemo Link workers also uncovered a cannon and cannon ball (pictured), anchor and aircraft wing close to the shore at Pegwell and a 14th Century shipwreck in French waters.

South Thanet MP was present at the update event. He said: “I was pleased to examine the presentation by the Nemo project, the electricity interconnector with capacity to bring in 1 GW (about a 60th of peak UK demand) of electricity from Belgium via a 95 mile long cable to be laid on the bed of the North Sea, landing UK-side at Richborough.

“Whilst I have little concerns about the connector itself, the effects of cable-laying and shoreside operations being minimal; I maintain my objections to National Grid’s unimaginative plans to then erect towering electricity pylons across the Kent countryside.”

The pylons, standing at 50 metres tall, will be in the Canterbury district.

Next steps

As part of the converter station construction at the Richborough Power Station site, the Nemo team will be taking delivery of four electrical transformers.

The transformers will be arriving from Nuremberg, via Rotterdam, into Ramsgate dock late next month. Due to their size, the delivery vehicle will be travelling under the direction of the police and the route has been agreed with the local highway authority.


Early September 2017 Loading of transformers in Nuremberg and barge transport to Rotterdam

Mid-September 2017 Transfer of transformers from barge to cargo vessel. Depart Rotterdam to Ramsgate

End September Transport 1st and 2nd transformers to site •

November 2017 Delivery of 3rd transformer

Early 2018 Delivery of 4th transformer

Delivery route

After their arrival in Ramsgate, each transformer will be loaded onto a flatbed truck and driven to the Converter Station site.

The route will be as follows:

A299 Royal Harbour Approach

Left onto A299 Canterbury Road East – continuing along A299 Hengist Way

Left onto A256 Richborough Way

Right onto A256 Ramsgate Road

Right into Nemo site, former Richborough Power Station

The joint project is between National Grid Nemo Link Limited, a subsidiary company of the UK’s National Grid Plc, and the Belgian Elia Group.

During the next phase of the work Nemo Link will start the submarine cable installation. Nemo Link is due to be operational in late 2018/early 2019.