Network companies press ahead with UK-Belgium power cable

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's National Grid and its Belgian counterpart Elia signed a final investment agreement on Friday to build a 1,000-megawatt subsea power link between the two countries.

The 140-kilometre power cable, expected to start operating in 2019, will increase Britain's electricity import capacity by a quarter and provide the first direct power link between the two countries.

The cable, which will connect Zeebrugge in Belgium with Kent in southern England, gained approval from Britain's energy regulator in December.

The British government supports the construction of new power import cables to help diversify energy sources. "Better electricity links to our neighbours help to guarantee our energy security at the lowest possible cost to billpayers," said Energy Secretary Ed Davey.

National Grid and Elia said they would soon announce construction contracts for the project, dubbed Nemo Link.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by David Holmes)