The unknown impact of Brexit should delay IFA2 decision, says campaigner

A COUNCIL has been urged to delay making a decision on giving planning permission to a £500m electrical interconnector because of the potential fallout from Britain's exit from the EU.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:03 pm
Daedalus airfield where the IFA2 Connector is set to be built Picture: Shaun Roster

It was announced on Friday that a decision on whether the IFA2 electrical power station will receive planning permission to be built at Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent is to be made at a meeting of Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee on Monday, January 23.

The project would bring French electricity to Britain via undersea cables and is being developed by National Grid, which is working with French electricity operator RTE to bring it into operation by 2020.

However, CRE – the French energy market regulator – says it could withhold approval for the project because of ‘uncertainties’ raised by Brexit.

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What the interconnector IFA2 site at Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent would look like

A spokesperson told Reuters news agency: ‘The approval of the IFA2 project will be the subject of a specific decision in January, 2017.’

The regulator has held a public consultation with stakeholders to determine whether the project should be allowed to go ahead, even if it receives planning permission.

The decision is expected to follow on January 24, the day after the local authority decides whether or not give planning permission.

A CRE spokesperson added that the project was started with the hypothesis that Britain would remain a member of the EU and that new treaties would have to be negotiated to govern future relations.

What the interconnector IFA2 site at Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent would look like

‘Nothing today sheds any light on what these potential new treaties may contain, notably on the United Kingdom’s access to the internal market, including the electricity market,’ the CRE said.

Bill Hutchison, chairman of Hill Head Residents’ Association said: ‘This surely shows that the council’s decision needs to be delayed.

‘Even if the project gets planning permission, it could be delayed by at least two years until Britain has fully exited the EU. National Grid says that it was expected that CRE would launch a consultation with stakeholders following Brexit.

However, a spokesman insisted that it remains ‘confident’ that the IFA2 project will be in place by 2020.

He said: ‘We believe our interconnector projects continue to have a strong business case following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

‘Our focus is to deliver these projects and ensure we have the right trading arrangements in place, so UK bill-payers have access to more secure, sustainable and competitively priced electricity.’

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the borough council, said the regulator’s decision would not affect the local authority’s decision.

He said: ‘It will not be affecting the plans at all. These are simply regulatory processes being followed in France.’

n People wishing to speak at the meeting can contact the council’s democratic services team by no later than 12pm on Wednesday, January 18 by calling 01329 824598, or you can visit the council’s website.