Campaigners warn Aquind plans will still have 'adverse' affect on South Downs National Park
CAMPAIGNERS have warned latest plans to bring electricity from France to the UK will still have an 'adverse' affect on a national park, despite the proposal of a new converter site.
The Hampshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has called for 'a more industrial site' to be used for a converter station for the Aquind interconnector, rather than one just outside the boundary of the South Downs National Park.
If approved by a government inspector at a later date the Aquind scheme will deliver power from France, with cables coming to land in Eastney in Portsmouth and travelling through the city before reaching a station further north.
Previously a site next to an existing converter station at Lovedean had been proposed, however, the latest plans have singled out a location west of the Lovedean site - still outside the national park.
However, the CPRE believes the newest iteration will still change the 'rural character' of the area.
Christopher Napier, of CPRE Hampshire’s planning group, said: 'The proposed development site is west of the Lovedean substation but is surrounded on three sides by the South Downs National Park, a nationally designated landscape, which in places is only 200 to 300 metres away.
'So, the site is very much within the setting of the national park. The Monarch's Way long distance trail passes close by.
'The proposed converter station includes two converter halls, each measuring 90 metres in length, 50 metres in width and, notably, 22 to 26 metres in height. These would be very large buildings, with a height well in excess of even the largest agricultural buildings and mature trees. So, disguise would not be possible.
'Buildings of this massive scale and utilitarian appearance in this location would have a major adverse impact on the setting of the national park. The landscape would be changed from an essentially rural character to one which is far more industrial.
'Views from the national park and Monarch's Way would become dominated by these buildings and accompanying infrastructure.
'So, we continue to maintain that another, more industrial, site needs to be found.'
Aquind declined to comment.