The decision on IFA2 will be watched very closely
The number of objections to a proposed new power station received by the council passing judgment on whether it gets built or not is fairly impressive.
For more than 1,000 people to take the time to compose objections to any kind of local planning issue indicates that there are strong feelings out there.
And there lies (part of) the rub. The planning application in question is for the £500m electrical interconnector facility, known as IFA2, on the Daedalus site at Lee-on-the-Solent.
While the land sits in Fareham borough, the residential properties most directly affected are in Gosport. As a result, the bulk of the objections have come from Gosport’s residents.
Gosport residents and politicians have already asked for the government to ‘call in’ the decision, on the grounds that it is too important for a local authority to rule on.
Of the 1,144 responses from members of the public, only 10 were in support. That is less than one per cent of respondents backing the scheme, which is overwhelmingly against in anybody’s books.
Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee has got its work cut out on this one – such is the public interest, the meeting has been transplanted from its regular room in the civic offices to the much larger Ferneham Hall.
And those councillors cannot afford to be dismissive of objections from outside the borough.
Their decision will – quite rightly – be closely scrutinised.
With the council leasing the land to the National Grid and also looking at the planning application, concerns have been raised of a conflict of interest – concerns the council says it has dealt with.
Every step of this process has been, and should continue to be, transparent. Rarely are the stakes in planning higher.