Aquind gave the public a chance to have their say on plans for an interconnector offering a link to France so electricity can be bought and sold under the Channel – with the undersea cables coming on to land at Eastney.
The project would see cables laid to transfer power from Normandy to a UK converter station at Lovedean, in a bid to strengthen both nations' electric grids.
After criticism from initial proposals in January 2018, the company said it listened to people and refined its proposals. A number of public consultations were then held for eight weeks starting in February this year in areas that could be affected by the interconnector.
But despite this, countryside charity Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire has ‘raised serious concerns’ – especially regarding the impact on the landscape and tranquillity of the area.
The charity believes the site, which is surrounded on three sides by the South Downs National Park (SDNP), with a gap of only a few metres in some areas, is unsuitable.
The convertor station – with two halls – each measure 90 metres in length, 50 metres in width and 22-26 metres in height.
CPRE says the sheer size and height of the proposed convertor would create a serious impact on the landscape – especially on the breathtaking views.
Christopher Napier, convenor of the South Downs and Central District Planning Group for CPRE Hampshire said: ‘This proposal is inappropriate for this site. Not only would the landscape and views of this magnificent part of our Hampshire countryside be permanently damaged by these massive buildings, but we would also lose hedgerows and mature trees in the immediate area.
‘The noise generated by the electrical equipment would harm the tranquillity and peace of these green spaces which is vital for the health and well-being of us all.
‘For buildings of the sheer size proposed, this location almost surrounded by the SDNP and in fine East Hampshire countryside does not accord with either national or local planning policy. A more appropriate site should be used.’
Commenting at the close of the statutory consultation, a spokesperson for Aquind said: ‘We would like to thank all of those who took their time to attend a public exhibition event, consider the consultation documents and provide feedback on our updated proposals.
‘The feedback we have received will help to refine our proposals before submitting an application to The Planning Inspectorate later this year.
‘We remain committed to engaging with the local community and will endeavour to keep local people informed throughout the planning process.’