Aquind says no cash given to Portsmouth as it would face 'accusations of trying to sweeten' city
THE company bidding to build a power link between Europe and the UK at Portsmouth has said the city has not been given cash as it would face ‘accusations of trying to sweeten’ people.
Aquind’s co-owner Alexander Temerko has handed more than £1.6m to Conservative political figures over recent years.
But another director, Richard Glasspool, told the BBC nothing could be given to Portsmouth or the company would face accusations.
The £1.2bn scheme would see undersea power cable coming ashore at Eastney and running up to Lovedean if approved by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
Accusations of cronyism has been made – with several Tory ministers recusing themselves from making the final decision on the plans.
Asked by the BBC why Portsmouth received no cash, Mr Glasspool said: ‘We cannot sort of make any contributions which would then come back, people would accuse us of trying to sweeten...’
Aquind previously said there would be jobs created.
He said the donations to Tory politicians were ‘legally all lawful’ and done over a number of years.
Asked what Aquind expected in return for the donations, Mr Glasspool said ‘nothing at all in respect of this project’.
He repeated Mr Temerko’s position last year when he was the company has ‘no political influence’.
In a Westminster Hall debate earlier this week Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan raised fears of ‘security concerns’ over fibre optic cabling in the power cable.
He said: ‘Elements of the project give rise to further security concerns. Aquind plans to lay one of the largest data pipes in Europe alongside the electricity interconnector. It will hold 180 fibre-optic pairs, many of which will be available for hire by third-party clients, which could include telecoms companies, technology firms and banks.
‘That raises similar concerns to those about the UK’s 5G network and Huawei.’
But asked if the focus on co-owner Viktor Fedotov’s Russian roots was unfair, Mr Glasspool said: ‘It shines a spotlight on them unnecessarily which is not the case.
‘We’ve got an infrastructure project here, we want to complete it,’ he said. ‘It’s good for the country in all sorts of reasons... meeting our carbon zero target.’
It comes as the business secretary’s officials have asked Aquind for revised plans excluding fibre optics.
This includes more detail on how Victorious Festival will be compensated when Farlington Playing Fields (the festival's camp site) are dug up during the works, and how the company decided £100,000 was enough compensation for affecting football pitches.
Minister Paul Scully said a decision will be made on ‘the work of the Planning Inspectorate and the quasi-judicial process that he has in front of him, rather than any of the accusations that have been thrown at him to influence his decision either way’.