Fears that IFA2 could damage tourism at Lee-on-the-Solent

CONCERNS are being raised that potential tourists to a seaside town will be put off by the building of a £500m electrical interconnector.

Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 6:00 am
The former HMS Daedalus airfield and left, Lee-on-the-Solent Picture: Jason Hawkes

National Grid’s IFA2 is planned for Daedalus - located next to Lee-on-the-Solent – and outline plans have been submitted to Fareham Borough Council for the new 22m-high building in addition to full plans for subsea cables that would go along the coast to Chilling.

A long-awaited report by a council officer was released at the weekend which recommended that the project is given the go-ahead at a meeting on Monday in Fareham.

The report revealed that 839 people from the borough of Gosport had voiced objections to the proposal, stating concerns that due to the size and scale of the building, it could affect tourism in the town.

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Rick Barter, who runs Lee Business Association and The Book Shop in the town’s High Street called the converter ‘preposterous.’

He said: ‘It seems to ruin this stretch of coastline with something as huge as this.

‘I feel that Lee is the wrong place for something like this.

‘If we get this big thing here it’s guaranteed to have an effect. The whole thing is preposterous.

‘I get that it is probably necessary that this is built, but it should not be here, it just doesn’t fit.’

Chilling was previously considered as a location for the interconnector but principal land owner Hampshire County Council would not sell the land.

The decommissioned Fawley Power Station was also suggested but it also wasn’t available.

Councillor Graham Burgess, Gosport borough councillor for Lee East said: ‘It’s a huge barn and it will look like a big blot on our landscape. I really hope that if it does get built that it won’t hurt our tourism in Lee as it’s not a great advert for a seaside town.’

The report stated: ‘Third-party comments suggest that the presence of the converter station will detract from the town as one of the main gateways to Gosport with the resultant impacts for coastal businesses reliant on tourism trade. Officers do not consider that the converter station will unacceptably harm the approach into Lee nor impact upon tourism in the area.’