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/