Prime minister Boris Johnson called to 'intervene' over Aquind interconnector plan in Portsmouth

PRIME minister Boris Johnson is tonight facing calls to intervene and scrap Aquind’s £1.2bn interconnector energy plan which will cause ‘havoc’ in Portsmouth.

By Tom Cotterill
Monday, 11th October 2021, 5:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 3:11 pm

Councillor Simon Bosher, Portsmouth’s Conservative leader, demanded the PM took action in a letter sent to Downing Street today.

The fiercely-opposed interconnector scheme would see an undersea power cable land at Eastney from France, eventually leading to a power hub in Eastney.

However, in order to install the interconnector, huge chunks of the eastern side of Portsea Island would need to be dug up, causing years of misery for city residents.

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Boris Johnson, pictured giving a statement in London. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

In the letter to Mr Johnson and his deputy, former foreign secretary Dominic Raab, Cllr Bosher said: ‘The interconnector scheme is not wanted here in Portsmouth where, if permission is given, it will cause havoc and misery to local people.

‘With only three roads on and off of Portsea island, the planned route for the interconnector cable up the Eastern Road will have a knock-on effect on congestion, air pollution and people’s day-to-day lives.

‘That is unacceptable when over the past few years many of us and campaigners have suggested better alternative routes for the interconnector that would see it miss Portsmouth entirely and still reach its destination in Lovedean.’

In a statement to The News, Cllr Bosher added the move by Aquind ‘beggared belief’.

Portsmouth Conservative group leader, Councillor SImon Bosher, pictured during the 2018 election count inside Guildhall. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1)

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The appeal to the PM comes just days before business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng makes his decision to approve or refuse the application.

However, Cllr Bosher has questioned the senior MP’s ‘credibility’ to make such a decision following the cabinet minister’s interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.

Mr Kwarteng was grilled about the £700,000 made in donations to the Conservative Party by Aquind’s director, Alexander Temerko, and a further £700,000 by Aquind’s owner Viktor Fedotov to Tory MPs.

Asked if the party would return the cash if Aquind was given approval, the business secretary said: ‘The way in which these deals are done, not the deal, we rely on official advice. So as secretary of state I will get official advice as to whether to approve or reject the application, and I will be guided by that advice.

‘It would be pre-emptive of me to say which way.’

In 2019, when a business minister, Mr Kwarteng wrote to Mr Temerko about his ‘continuing support’ for projects which 'of course includes the Aquind project'.

Asked by Marr about his previous support for Aquind, he said: ‘I've said – I've never commented on this specific, specific, project – I've said very broadly I'm very much in favour of more interconnectors because they can actually get electricity sources of power cheaply from the continent and in many cases it helps with decarbonisation.’

However, In his letter to the PM, Cllr Bosher said the revelations had ‘compromised’ the position of the business secretary

‘Given the allegations that have come to light over recent weeks, including the Pandora Papers, how can the secretary of state credibly take this decision?’ Cllr Bosher wrote.

Mr Kwarteng’s decision on the Aquind plan is expected by October 21.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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