Eastern Road chaos fears as council boss slams power cable project

'˜PIE IN THE SKY' '“ these are the words a city council boss used to describe a £1.2bn plan to bring an electric cable from France to Portsmouth.

Friday, 2nd February 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 2nd February 2018, 7:12 am
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Councillor Donna Jones has blasted the scheme to build an interconnector that will bring electricity from mainland Europe to the UK.

Proposals by Aquind would see a cable running under the Channel from France to a substation in Lovedean, near Waterlooville, with cables exiting the sea near Eastney.

But the Tory boss of Portsmouth City Council rubbished the bid, which she said would cause congestion chaos across Portsmouth for at least 18 months.

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Her comments come after a briefing with the technology firm’s top team.

At the meeting, officials told the council that to fit the underground cables areas to the east of the city would need to be ripped up, including parts of Eastern Road.

They claim the stretch of Eastern Road would take just 10 weeks.

But Cllr Jones said: ‘The developers are completely out of their depth. They don’t have a clue.

‘It is going to take at least 18 months just to get through Portsmouth and three years to get to Lovedean.

‘We will still be talking about this plan in 10 years’ time.

‘We don’t have any more time for this at the council. It’s pie in the sky.’

Cllr Jones added she was flabbergasted to hear that bosses behind the plan have only scraped together a fraction of the scheme’s £1.2bn cost.

‘The company has got a pledge for £15m but would need to raise in excess of £1.2bn – if it ever happens at all,’ she said.

The proposed route would see cabling being installed from Eastney along a 20km (12.4 miles) stretch to Lovedean.

Aquind said the wires would follow existing road networks where possible, with similar projects having taken two weeks for every kilometre of cable laid.

Roads which could be dug up during the process include Bransbury Road and Eastney Road, in Eastney, Milton Road, Milton and Eastern Road.

Cabling will then continue north through Farlington and Drayton before reaching the site of the converter station in Lovedean.

Aquind said that any final route would still be subject to discussion with the council.

However, the company was unable to give a clear estimate of how long the overall project could take to finish.

A spokesman for the firm said: ‘During the construction process only very short sections of road will be affected at any one time, with road closures limited to one lane in order to minimise congestion and disruption.

‘In the case of Eastern Road, we would expect the underground cable installation to be complete within a 10-week period.’

Speaking of funding, the group said: ‘The current approach to funding is the standard industry approach for a project of this kind and Aquind is fully confident in being able to deliver it.

‘The installation works will only start once the relevant permits are granted and funding for the construction stage of the project is confirmed.’