Aquind: MoD raises “serious national security concerns” over controversial interconnector project in Portsmouth and Waterlooville

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has “serious national security concerns” over the Aquind project, which proposes laying an interconnector cable through Portsmouth.
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Following a delay in the project’s planning decision announced by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) in late January, the MoD has submitted a letter to the planning inspectorate, highlighting its “significant national security concerns” about the project. If approved, the scheme would lay an electricity cable stretching from Normandy to Eastney, passing through Portsea Island, Drayton, Purbrook, Waterlooville, and ending at a substation in Lovedean.

A previous 'Let's Stop Aquind' walking protest Picture: Sam StephensonA previous 'Let's Stop Aquind' walking protest Picture: Sam Stephenson
A previous 'Let's Stop Aquind' walking protest Picture: Sam Stephenson
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In its letter, the MoD acknowledged having “scoped the risk” but stressed the need for further collaboration with DESNZ to address its concerns in a manner consistent with their “sensitive nature”. It asked DESNZ to clarify the proposed process and allow both the MoD and Aquind to provide feedback, along with a six-week extension to prepare representations.

The MoD expressed reluctance to engage with Aquind recently due to the absence of an agreed process “which affords appropriate protection to MOD’s concerns”. It added that it would keep this situation “under review” as it develops its evidence.

In response, Aquind Spokesperson Ben Iorio said the company is “keen” to address the MoD’s concerns “in good faith” but said it is disappointing that the “alleged concerns” were not outlined. He said: “Previously, during the examination period of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application, the MoD clearly stated that they had no concerns with Aquind Interconnector, and indeed were supportive of our proposed route.

“We remain ready and willing to address the MoD’s planning-related questions relevant to the Aquind DCO. The manner of the MoD’s last-minute interference will have negative impacts on all proposed developments and marine users in and around Portsmouth, including renewable energy, interconnectors, fisheries and many others.

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“The uncertainty caused by their opaque response and unwillingness to engage to resolve any concerns sends a chilling effect to other developers seeking to build and finance major projects in the UK.”