Controversial plans for a £2.8 billion electricity connection along Cumbria’s coast are to be scrapped because of the demise of the Moorside nuclear power station project.

The National Grid had been planning to upgrade the existing 164km electricity line to connect electricity produced by Moorside to the nation’s power supply through its North West Coast Connections (NWCC) project.

The project involved erecting 50m pylons through swathes of the Cumbrian countryside, running cables under parts of the Lake District and burrowing a tunnel under Morecambe Bay.

But the wind up of Moorside developer NuGen by Japanese owners Toshiba, has ended the need for the NWCC project, which had expected to bring investment and jobs but was fiercely opposed by environmentalists, local campaign groups and MPs.

It had been in a state of limbo since May 2017 after Toshiba said it was reviewing the future of the £15bn Moorside development after its then subsidiary Westinghouse – which had been due to develop three of its AP1000 reactors at the site north of Sellafield – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States.

Toshiba pulled the plug on NuGen earlier this month after failing to find a buyer willing to take it forward. Moorside was expected to create thousands of jobs and generate around seven per cent of the UK’s energy needs.

A spokesman for National Grid – whose key role is to connect new energy generation to the national electricity network – said: “We are in contact with Toshiba following their announcement about NuGen.

“We currently have a connection agreement in place with the company, but we anticipate that they will wish to terminate this, effectively bringing the North West Coast Connections project to an end.”

In a statement, a spokesman for NuGen said: “NuGen and Toshiba will comply with all necessary requirements to enact the wind-up process.”

Work on planning the NWCC project started in 2001, with a number of options considered and several public consultations held before the route was decided in 2015 and final proposals presented a year later.

Construction, subject to planning approval, was due to start in 2019 and be completed by 2024 to meet the target date set for energy production at Moorside, but timescales slipped at Toshiba began the search for a new investor to take over NuGen.

The Lake District National Park Authority had voiced fears that the project could damage the bid for the Lake District to be awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO, although it was secured in July last year while the NWCC project continued to sit on the shelf awaiting clarity from Toshiba.

The project was set to face strong opposition through the planning process with critics including MP for Barrow and Furness, John Woodcock, and groups such as Friends of the Lake District and Power Without Pylons.

A post on its website read: “Power Without Pylons has never opposed Moorside, but we are obviously pleased that the threat of giant pylons around the Duddon Estuary has now receded.

“If the project is ever revived, and giant pylons again threaten our wonderful landscape, we will still be here to oppose them.”

Businesses, however, had been supportive, with 21 firms from Cumbria and Lancashire applying to be part of the project’s supply chain.

Meanwhile, hopes remain that a nuclear development will take place at the Moorside site.

Strong calls have been made for the Government to help find a new developer to build a power station there, while others believe the site would be ideal for Small Modular Reactors, which are less costly and manufactured off site.