WE STOPPED AQUIND…FOR NOW
Very rarely, if ever, does an issue unite people of all political persuasions, local and national politicians, and residents of all nationalities, religious beliefs, and social standings.
Aquind Interconnector is such an issue. Objections to it bound a passionate group of people together, committed to defending their city and its environs against the destructive unnecessary proposal. MPs and Councillors were unanimous in their criticism. Residents along the route are united. IT HAS BEEN STOPPED…FOR NOW…
Press Release: Aquind Limited Given Permission to Bring Judicial Review of Secretary of State for Business and Energy’s Decision
We have heard that Aquind Limited has been given permission to bring a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State for Business and Energy’s decision not to allow Aquind’s proposed Interconnector, consisting of high voltage electrical cables and a communications network between Northern France and the South Downs.
Let’s Stop Aquind is disappointed that Aquind Limited continues to pursue this enormously unpopular plan, which would result in devastating environmental damage to Portsmouth, chaos on our roads, disruption to local schools and businesses, and contribute to the dangerously high levels of air pollution already common in Portsmouth.
At a time when the actions and finances of oligarchs are under scrutiny, we are perplexed that the owners and directors of Aquind would seek finance for the Interconnector (at an estimated cost of £1.2 billion) now the economic case for bringing cheaper electricity from France has collapsed, due to greater demand from Europe for sources of locally generated power and the UK Government’s policy of supporting green energy projects within our own shores.
We understand that Portsmouth City Council has been accepted as an Interested Party to the proceedings at the High Court, and we look forward to working with the leader of the Council, our local MP’s and city councillors across the political spectrum in continuing to oppose this plan until the threat of the Aquind Interconnector is lifted from the city for good. Together we will #stopAQUIND.
Lets Stop Aquind 20/6/2022
Press Release: Portsmouth’s Environment Under Renewed Attack as Aquind’s Oligarchs Seek to Revive Interconnector Scheme by Judicial Review
Despite unanimous local opposition, Aquind Limited has revealed that it has launched a legal challenge to the decision to deny it permission to land a cross channel electrical Interconnector cable and fibre optic communications network in Portsmouth.
This controversial move puts the environment of Portsmouth at risk from a 5-7 year long building project that would choke the city, and is likely to draw further attention to the Russian backgrounds of owners Alexander Temerko & Viktor Fedotov and the extensive financial support given to the Conservative Party by Aquind, it’s owners and directors.
Activists from grassroots community group Let’s Stop Aquind are calling on all interested parties – local MP’s Stephen Morgan and Penny Mordaunt and representatives from Portsmouth and Winchester City Councils – to coordinate a response to this disappointing development.
The decision by the Secretary of State for Business and Energy to deny the company permission to land the cables was widely welcomed throughout Portsmouth, and Let’s Stop Aquind is committed to defending the city’s environment and continue to highlight the dangers posed to our wildlife and green spaces, the unsuitability of Aquind to carry out a billion-pound engineering project and the threat to national security of a Russian funded infrastructure project in the home of the Royal Navy.
Group co-founder Viola Langley commented on the situation:
“We are outraged that the owners of Aquind have dared to launch a Judicial Review to try to reverse the decision by Kwasi Kwarteng. This project would do untold damage to the fabric of our city and its residents. We will endeavour to counter this effort by Aquind to cause so much harm and disruption for so little gain. There must be a better way especially at this critical time.“
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan commented on the development:
“Aquind’s desperate decision to apply for a Judicial Review changes nothing. The facts remain that it would bring untold disruption to our city, but offers no clear local benefits.
At a time of widespread calls to clean up alleged dirty-money in Britain linked to Putin’s Russia, this application is not worth the paper it is written on. I am continuing to work alongside local campaigners and I will be monitoring Aquind’s challenge closely as it develops.
“Portsmouth is united in its opposition against Aquind. Government was right to finally arrive at the correct decision to not approve it. Whatever the outcome of this application, this remains the case.”
You can view the article in The News HERE.
Press Release: Renewable Energy at Any Cost? We Don’t Think So
It was unexpected, a day early and against the odds. Our phones started ringing, apps pinging. We had to pinch ourselves. Are you sure? Yes, the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng has refused Aquind planning permission for their interconnector. A week of celebration followed. We made the most of it – it’s rare for a community campaign to have a win. But now it’s time to take a reality check.
The government’s decision went against the Examining Authority’s conclusions that although there were adverse effects, the benefits of Aquind outweighed the disadvantages. Aquind has threatened a judicial review and, while this is expected, serves to remind us that this is not over. To add to the mix, we have a government paralysed by scandal and facing a conflict in Ukraine, post-Brexit changes to interconnector regulation and an energy crisis (not to mention the small matter of a climate crisis). All of these could impact on how the Aquind saga plays out and makes predictions and comment challenging. One thing is still clear – our opposition to Aquind and the reasons behind it.
We have always argued that the problem is the cumulative impact of construction on Portsmouth (the second most densely populated city in the UK). It’s not just about saving a listed cottage or the corner of a car park or avoiding traffic jams – it’s the total disruption to wildlife, residents, business and city infrastructure that matters. Similarly, at the other end of the cable corridor in the South Downs, residents face the impact of multiple energy projects – a new solar farm, Aquind convertor station and sub-station upgrade – a bit of landscaping as mitigation doesn’t really cut it.
We feel it’s important to put the government’s decision in the context it deserves. It is not a project that can be only understood through a planning lens. Nor can it be seen as a stand-alone project removed from the myriad of other interconnectors planned, approved and in the pipeline. To do so, plays into the hands of Aquind’s owners who are only too happy to be seen as saviours of the energy crisis, despite having prior and controversial involvement in Soviet-era oil pipelines.
We are not against interconnectors or renewable energy supplies from Europe; we support UK’s need for a flexible and renewable energy network that can trade excess wind, water and solar power. UK to Europe interconnection capacity-needs have been predicted by Good Energy as 15GW by 2050 and 18GW in the government’s Energy White Paper. By 2025, UK will have 15 interconnectors supplying 18GW and may well be a net exporter of energy. This is without Aquind.
From the onset, this project has been mired in controversy from political lobbying to at least £1.3 million in Aquind-related donations to the Conservatives. The suitability of Aquind for a project of this size and national importance has been questioned. The Pandora Papers exposed links between Aquind owner, Viktor Fedotov and corruption allegations. Both Portsmouth MPs have warned of a potential security risk should Aquind be given the green light.
The Secretary of State’s final decision was a surprise. Did he act on our concerns and the warnings from our city’s MPs or was he backed into a corner, having shown previous support for this project and now at risk of a public backlash given the Tories’ exposure to donations? Is a potential judicial review just necessary collateral to save face? Or are we waiting for legislation such as the Economics Crime Bill to put an end to this once and for all? It could be all of these or none and the only concrete reason we have is the one given in his final decision letter; that alternative routes had not been fully considered.
We are in total agreement that the climate crisis needs urgent action but the race to decarbonisation cannot take these kinds of short-cuts – cosy relationships with business, cash for access, revolving doors and flawed due diligence. To do so risks lining the pockets of a kleptocracy who are complicit in the multiple crises the world faces, and risks cutting communities off from decision-making. To build a better world and rapidly, communities must be meaningfully involved in transparent planning processes and national infrastructure projects must be for the benefit of all.
Press Release: Campaigners Thank City Residents for Fighting Back and Securing an Amazing VICTORY
20th January 2022: Last night’s decision by the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng to refuse to grant Aquind the Development Consent Order (DCO) is the one that we have campaigned so hard for.
Campaign co-leads, Viola Langley and Paula Savage said:
“We are all delighted at this decision and so are communities along the route. We have campaigned tirelessly for the last 18 months to give ordinary people a voice in what has been a difficult planning process. So many of the problems we highlighted were not addressed and people felt strongly that they had not been listened to.”
The campaign started as a group of concerned citizens wanting to protect green spaces and insist on a voice in the planning process. As the full risks of Aquind became clear, more people joined the campaign, supported by other environmental organisations, Portsmouth’s MPs – Stephen Morgan (Labour) and Penny Mordaunt (Conservative) – the Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson and councillors, and national activist group, Led By Donkeys. We are grateful for all their support but the biggest round of applause must go to the ordinary people of Portsmouth and communities along the proposed route of the interconnector who went out of their way to have their voices heard.
What Is the Problem?
Aquind’s proposal is to install cables, designed to carry 2 million watts of electricity, under Eastney beach and to dig trenches and drill tunnels from the landing-place, South to North, to connect the cables to The National Grid at Lovedean. Electricity generated in Europe could flow to the UK and vice versa. The construction of this project would mean many months of disruption and untold damage to the fabric of the city and along the route. Toxic material long-buried safely in landfill sites might be unearthed, further harming the environment in a city already suffering severe congestion.
Traffic chaos, causing much pollution, would negatively affect the people who live in, and those who would want to visit, Portsmouth. Let us not forget Portsmouth is the 2nd most densely populated city outside London.
The project is being imposed upon the city and South Hampshire by the Government. It was rejected by Portsmouth City Council and the various County and Parish Councils along the route when first proposed by the developer, Aquind. Following the local rejection, Aquind took their case to the Government Department dealing with energy supply (BEIS). They wanted the project to be given NSIP(Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) status and then to apply for a DCO( Development Consent Order) thus removing all decision-making from local to national level.
The then Secretary of State for the Department directed that their request be granted. This was no surprise as he had previously been publicly very supportive of the scheme. This direction effectively took control and any decisions out of the hands of local interests. It allowed the developer to push on with the proposal, following legislation embodied in the Planning Act of 2008. Examination of their application by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) took place this year, its Recommendation went to BEIS in early June and in September a decision will be announced by the current SoS (Secretary of State) at BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng.
Read More About The Issues
You can read more here about the issues around the Aquind Interconnector project:
- Pandora Papers: Businessman linked to Tory donations made millions from alleged fraud – The BBC
- Russian tycoon’s link to alleged corruption in leaked files raises questions for Tory ministers – The Guardian
- Kwasi Kwarteng accused of misleading claims over power cable project – The Guardian
- Embezzlement Allegations Cast Shadow OVER AQUIND ENERGY PROJECT – Byline Times
- Cable tycoon lobbied Brexit negotiator Lord Frost over energy deal – The Times
- Firm Behind Giant Channel Cable Project is Owned by Former Soviet Oil Men and is Generous Conservative Donor – Byline Times
- Tories take £280k from Russia-linked donors in year since report called for crackdown – The Mirror
- Calls for ministers to ‘come clean’ over links to cross-Channel power cable sponsor – The Guardian
- Questions remain as cross-channel power line decision approaches – Sky News
- FOI Aquind Meeting Minutes with Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – What Do They Know
- Local authority accuses secretive Russian Tory donor’s firm of ‘abusing planning laws’ – Open Democracy
- Energy minister met Russia-linked donor Alexander Temerko despite warnings of ‘trap’ – The Times
- Russian influence in UK under the spotlight – CNN
Below are some of our latest news articles, you can read more news HERE.