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Aquind interconnector examination closes

As the examination into the proposed Aquind interconnector closed on 8 March 2021, Portsmouth City Council remains strongly against the suggested route for the construction and is hoping that the work the planning team has done will be enough to persuade central government that the interconnector is unnecessary, highly disruptive and poorly planned.

The council has worked in collaboration with a variety of affected parties, including East Hampshire District Council and Havant Borough Council who are united in their agreement that the interconnector is not wanted locally. The local authorities have spent the last six months engaging with the examination process in good faith, and at significant expense.

Cllr Hugh Mason, Cabinet Member for Planning Policy and City Development at Portsmouth City Council said: “We want to thank members of the public, allotment holders and other affected parties for their tireless campaigning against this unwanted construction. We have devoted significant time and resource to opposing the proposed interconnector and it is heartening that we have had so much local support. We await the final decision and hope that it will be the right one for Portsmouth and the wider area.”

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “All political parties in Portsmouth remain strongly opposed to the proposed interconnector project and the proposal to lay cables through areas in the east of the city. If approved, the construction will see significant and unacceptable disruption to residents and businesses in the city, and we believe that alternative options have not been explored. Having submitted our strong opposition to the project, we remain hopeful that it is not too late for the proposal to be rejected.

“We remain of the view that this would have been better settled at a local level, rather than by a national government minister.”

“The strong local sentiment against the proposed Aquind interconnector is based on logic, not just emotion” said Cllr Michael Wilson, Leader of Havant Borough Council. “We understand the need to provide resilience in the nation’s energy infrastructure but have genuine concerns about the local impact on our residents and businesses. We stand with our partner authorities in opposing this project.”

“Resilience for our nation and its future capabilities is understood, but not at any cost.” said Cllr Richard Millard, Leader at East Hampshire District Council. “The Aquind project does not meet a number of critical criteria for ourselves and our partner authorities, and I stand by our opposition to the project. We deem the impact on our environment – from our coastline up to our national park – as unacceptable.”

If approved the interconnector would involve laying cables through the city, landing in Eastney and running through Portsmouth and the borough of Havant to a converter station at Lovedean, which would cause significant disruption to residents. The council has worked closely with affected parties to keep them informed and involved with the process, including allotment holders in the east of the city and the Let’s Stop Aquind protest group.

Aquind’s argument is that by linking the British and French electric power grids it will make energy markets more efficient, improve security of supply and enable greater flexibility as power grids evolve to adapt to different sources of renewable energy and changes in demand trends such as the development of electric vehicles.

The council will keep people updated following the Examining Authority’s report on the examination, which is due to be published in June 2021. The final decision will then be made by the Secretary of State in September 2021 and the council will study any decision carefully. Updates will be made after these milestones through the council’s bespoke website – https://interconnectorportsmouth.co.uk/

Issue Specific Hearing 5

Issue Specific Hearing 5 into environmental matters and highways is being held on Thursday 18 February at 10am. You can watch the livestream here.

Issue Specific Hearing 4

Issue Specific Hearing 4 into the draft Development Consent Order is being held on Wednesday 17 February at 10am. You can watch the livestream here.

22 January 2021

The next Issue Specific and Open Floor Hearings are due to take place from the 15 February. View timetable on Planning Inspectorate website.

8 January 2021

We are aware that since the online hearings in December 2020 for the Aquind Interconnector Development Consent Order, members of the public have been writing to the Examining Authority (part of the Planning Inspectorate) with comments on what was said. We also understand that residents have received responses that their comments will not be admitted to the examination.

In order to comment through the examination process, you needed to have registered as an ‘Interested Person’ by 6 October last year. The Examining Authority also used its discretion to accept comments received by unregistered persons up to 12 October 2020. As a local authority we are automatically considered an ‘Interested Person’ and can comment throughout the examination.

We understand the Examining Authority has now said it is not willing to use its discretion to admit comments from unregistered members of the public about what was said at the hearings in December 2020. We understand that this will be disappointing for members of the public but the Examining Authority is legally entitled to take this stance under the Planning Act 2008.

We would like to reassure you that we continue to oppose the Aquind scheme. We have been working very closely with our residents and other local authorities to make sure all considerations and concerns are brought to the Examining Authority’s attention. A point is not viewed as being stronger just because it is made by a large number of people – all material considerations must be considered and given weight according to their merits by the Examining Authority, no matter how many people raise them.

If you have a concern that you feel has not been raised at any point in the examination you should contact your local ward councillor.