'˜A bad decision with damaging consequences': The story of IFA2 by Fareham community leader
Bill Hutchison, chairman of the Hill Head Residents Association has followed the story of the IFA2 proposals for the last two and a half years. Here, he gives his take on the situation up until now.
FOR a year now our MP, Caroline Dinenage, and a group of Councillors and the Residents’ Associations have been opposing National Grid plc’s planning application to build a 1000MW Interconnector to France at a cost of £500 million on the north side of the former RN airfield at Daedalus, Lee on the Solent.
Unfortunately, on 26th July 2017, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government confirmed that IFA2 could go ahead.
For many reasons, IFA2 should have been sited at Fawley on the site of the old power station or at Chilling in open countryside but there has been no public examination of these alternatives at all.
National Grid’s application for Daedalus has been supported and promoted by Fareham Borough Council throughout because they want a large but so far undisclosed sum of money, a so-called “Premium Payment”, from National Grid to put IFA2 on the airfield despite the fact it contravenes Fareham’s own Local Plan.
This multinational came along waving lots of money and the agreed Local Plan went out of the window.
Heavy electrics of the size of IFA2 interfere with sensitive electronics and the 1000MW Interconnector will dangerously affect the magnetic compass systems of the light aircraft that use the airfield.
The proximity of the IFA2 converter building and its 2 high voltage DC (390,000v) and 6 high voltage AC (400,000v) cables running under and across the airfield will also deter the aviation and defence businesses that it had been hoped to attract to the airfield’s Solent Enterprise Zone.
IFA2 has already destroyed these potential high quality local jobs. Our MP was instrumental in getting support of all kinds for the Enterprise Zone and is very concerned about it.
The way Fareham processed the National Grid plc planning application was outrageous.
The application ran to over 2,300 pages and was by far the largest Fareham had ever received yet objectors were allowed only 3 minutes for an individual and 5 minutes for an Association to put their case at the Planning Committee meeting.
An application of this size and complexity should have been heard before an independent planning inspector with expert advisers to hand at a properly constituted public inquiry. Fareham Planning Committee, who were clearly out of their depth on all technical and aviation matters, approved the application on 23rd January 2017 almost without discussion.
The decision by Fareham and National Grid plc to build the IFA2 Interconnector on the airfield at Daedalus regardless of the agreed local plan and strong local opposition in order simply for Fareham to get National Grids plc’s money is a thoroughly bad decision that will have deeply damaging consequences for the development of both the airfield and the Enterprise Zone.
Furthermore, it is the UK consumers who will have to pay for IFA2 through their electricity bills.
SEAN WOODWARD: ‘BILL IS WRONG’
‘BILL could not be more wrong’, says Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council.
‘I made a pledge to the people of Fareham that nothing will be built at Daedalus that will affect the operations of the airport and I will stick to that pledge.
‘I met Bill Hutchison two weeks ago and said to his face and will say it again.
‘There is no such law that exists that would have led to the decision being taken out of our hands on this planning application.
‘The only thing that could have happened would have been for the secretary of state to call it in and he chose not to do so. The council cannot give up its statutory duties.’
‘With regards to this so-called premium payment, yes, the council would be receiving this but I cannot confirm and cannot disclose what the figure is that we would receive.
‘It is a lease of land but it cannot be reported as it is classified as commercial in confidence.’