Objectors from around Portsmouth area band together against Aquind project in first government hearing

CONCERNED residents, politicians and campaigners from across the Portsmouth area joined forces to object to plans for a £1.2bn electric interconnector.

Monday, 7th December 2020, 2:03 pm
Protestors make their voices heard over the plans for Aquind to run interconnector cables through Portsmouth Linda Spence, one of the organisers of the protest. October 10, 2020 Picture: Richard Lemmer

In the first public hearing for the controversial Aquind interconnector project held today (Dec 7), government inspectors - who will have the final say on the proposals - listened to the concerns of a range of groups and organisations.

If approved, the scheme will bring electricity from France to the UK with cables coming ashore at Eastney, in Portsmouth, then travelling through the city to reach its destination at Lovedean.

Read More

Read More
Portsmouth council spends £250,000 fighting Aquind plans

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Protestors make their voices heard over the plans for Aquind to run interconnector cables through Portsmouth Alida Payson and Eli Lazarus, with their children Emlyn, 6 months old, and Marjorie, 5 years old. October 10, 2020 Picture: Richard Lemmer

It is thought work to lay the cables would last at least 66 weeks.

Milton resident Kimberly Barrett, shared the fears of campaign group Keep Milton Green that included pollution and damage to open spaces and nature.

She said: 'This is a city that also has an air quality issue, a large population density and a protected harbour and nature reserve to the east of the city.

'Why could it not make landfall somewhere that does not have all the issues we as a city face?'

Drone pictures of Milton allotments that could be lost to Aquid project. Picture: Solent Sky Services

Councillor Matthew Winnington, who represents Eastney and Craneswater, had specific concerns about the use of the Fort Cumberland car park for work. 'We know the vast majority of the car park is going to be taken out of use for the vast majority of the time,' he said.

'This is completely unacceptable. It's the car park that allows people to use the beach.

'The impact on parking in the area will be absolutely diabolical.'

Several people raised concerns that the public were not properly consulted.

Viola Langley, from the Let's Stop Aquind group, said: 'People feel intimidated, threatened and disregarded. How can people make the right decisions when they have no idea what the issues are?

'We do not need, we do not want and we will not tolerate this project.'

Fears were also raised about the end point of the route.

Cllr Paula Langford-Smith, chairman of Denmead Parish Council, said: 'While the residents of Portsmouth, Havant and East Hampshire will suffer short term disruption from cables, the residents of Denmead parish will not only have to endure this but are also faced with the addition of a 20-metre high building.

'This will be sitting in the parish for 20 years of more.'

Speaking on behalf of Aquind, Simon Bird QC, said: 'In relation to consultation, the approach was agreed with each relevant authority including Portsmouth City Council and we held two statutory public consultations. As a result many more sensitive areas along the route were removed altogether.'

He added that a horizontal drilling technique would be used along Milton Allotments to reduce disruption and residents would not be restricted from entering the allotments.

A further six hearings on the project are set to be held throughout December.

The government will close its examination on March 8, 2021.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to Portsmouth news online - as well as fewer adverts, access to our digital edition and mobile app.

Our trial offer starts at just £2 a month for the first two months.