Councillors approve plans for £500m IFA2 interconnector at Daedalus

The former HMS Daedalus airfield. Credit: Jason Hawkes PPP-160819-131159001
The former HMS Daedalus airfield. Credit: Jason Hawkes PPP-160819-131159001

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PLANS for a £500m electrical converter station on a former Navy airfield have been approved by councillors today.

The landmark decision for National Grid’s IFA2 project was made by Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee at a packed-out meeting in Ferneham Hall, Fareham in which hundreds headed down to see the outcome unfold.

The proposals, which were recommended for approval, consist of outline plans for a 22m-high converter station at Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent in addition to full plans for subsea cables that will go along the coast.

Some 1,134 people wrote to oppose the plan, compared to just 10 in support.

Concerns included the size of the building, the impact on tourism and quality of life of nearby residents.

Aviation manufacturer Britten-Normen against the plan, with the Daedalus firm unconvinced the proposal would not affect aircraft using the landing strip.

There were 15 deputations against the proposals during the contentious meeting including from Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage and Gosport borough councillor Stephen Philpott.

Cllr Philpott recieved rapturous applause from residents for his deputation in which he said: ‘If you approve this, you will be pressing the detonator and your core strategy will be left in tatters.’

Ms Dinenage said that while she is not opposed to the idea of interconnectors, she affirmed that the site was ‘simply the wrong place’ for IFA2.

She said: ‘This is simply the wrong site for it. To have extremely high voltage cables going under a runway is something to avoid at all costs.

‘We cannot jeopardise the future of employment at this site. We cannot put lives at risk.’

Mike Murray, of Britten-Norman, also spoke against the application, stating: ‘National Grid have put a lot of work into this project but they are not quite there yet. It has to be more robust.’

Morris Bray, from National Grid, said that the application would bring ‘local benefits’ to the community.

He said: ‘There is a proven natural need for IFA2. It’s the most productive site and will bring local benefits to the area.’