Published: 12:30, 19 December 2013
| Updated: 12:34, 19 December 2013
A major project to channel electricity under the sea between east Kent and Belgium has taken a significant step forward.
Thanet planners have given National Grid Nemo Link the go-ahead for developments at the former Richborough power station site.
This is the point where 81 miles of cable - carrying 1,000 megawatts of electricity - will reach the UK from Zeebrugge.
Thanet District Council approved the application for an electricity substation, a converter station and underground cables between Richborough and Pegwell Bay last night.
These developments are the onshore part of Nemo Link - a subsea interconnector link to Belgium – known as Nemo Link, being developed jointly by National Grid Nemo Link Ltd and Elia, the Belgian transmission company.
It is the first electricity link between the two countries.
National Grid project director Mark Pearce said: "The Richborough site is ideally suited for the development. We look forward to working with the local authorities, communities and interest groups as the project progresses.
"Interconnectors will have an important role in diversifying the sources of electricity for this country and helping to keep our supplies secure. It will also help create a competitive European market."
A decision from Dover District Council is expected in the next few weeks. Part of the project involves development on land within the authority's area.
Kent already has two interconnectors with Europe. The Interconnexion France Angleterre (IFA) runs between France and Sellindge and the BritNed interconnector links the Netherlands and the Isle of Grain.
From Richborough, as many as 70 pylons up to 50 metres tall will cut through the countryside to the north of Canterbury.
National Grid this week is preparing to erect the structures between Richborough and Broad Oak.
The pylons will run through Upstreet, Hersden, Broak Oak and Sturry to reach the sub-station in Broad Oak Road, tapping into Belgian electricity supplies.
The company expects to submit a planning application in the summer of 2015 and start construction in 2017.
Project manager Steve Self said: "We received varied, detailed and very informative feedback from the consultation during the summer and we've published a report explaining how we took that information on board in our decision-making process."
It is proposed that the Nemo interconnector could go into operation by 2018.