Decision on Aquind project delayed to October as firm is quizzed by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

THE final decision on the Aquind interconnector has been delayed by more than a month over questions about the firm’s attempt to snatch up land.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 4:09 pm

Swathes of land rights and ownership could be forfeited to Aquind if business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng approves the £1.2bn plan to bring power to Britain from France via undersea cables coming ashore at Eastney, Portsmouth.

Mr Kwarteng is in the final stages of deciding if the plan can go ahead, but has asked the company why it needs certain compulsory purchase orders if a controversial telecommunications aspect of the project is ditched.

The company was previously asked to justify the inclusion of fibre optic cabling with the power cable, due to run underground from Portsmouth to Lovedean.

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Aquind had said it would lease ‘spare capacity’ on the fibre optic line on a commercial basis to offer a ‘cost-efficient alternative to laying additional fibre cables’.

This summer Mr Kwarteng asked the company to provide a plan without including the commercial telecommunications aspect.

Now Aquind has until September 16 to explain why this alternative plan still includes a request for land rights for areas relating to telecoms.

This means the final decision will be made by October 21, instead of September 8.

David Langley, from Let’s Stop Aquind, told The News: ‘I just think it’s a very convenient delay for them.

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‘The opposition to this scheme should feel should feel much more at a disadvantage because who gains from this?

‘Certainly not the city of Portsmouth, but it can only be to the gain of the Aquind people.’

His wife Viola, who has led the grassroots campaign group, said the project must be ended ‘at all costs’.

‘We can’t afford that destruction and damage to Portsmouth,’ she said.

He said opposition in France is already holding up the project, and believes a delay by decision-makers in England will not cause Aquind concern.

Some 6,000 people have now signed Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan’s petition against the project.

The telecoms cable meets the need for ‘the continuing growth in demand for international bandwidth and how the proposals meet the UK Government's infrastructure policy in relation to telecoms,’ Aquind previously said.

A company spokesman said it would respond to Mr Kwarteng’s questions by the deadline.

‘We look forward to a decision being made by the 21st October,’ he said.

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