Press Release: Our response to Aquind Ltd’s Public Statements

The leaks emerging from the Pandora Papers confirm some of the concerns that we’ve had about the AQUIND interconnector all along.

Our campaign to stop Aquind was founded on the back of their poor community consultation and an unfeasible route that would risk environmental damage and cause disruption to our city, wildlife and businesses. On top of this, the history of political donations to Tory Government ministers and the company’s opaque structure have eroded community trust in Aquind and the planning process. AQUIND have insisted that their project required national infrastructure status taking the decision-making out of the hands of locally elected authorities.

We demand the Tory government stops delaying a decision on Aquind and in 17 days’ time, does the right thing and stops Aquind once and for all.  

In a response to yesterday’s leaks, Aquind’s statement to The Guardian[1] claimed merits of the project that we refute:

“The environment has been at the heart of the project development and has been fully considered during the planning process.”

Here are just some of the risks identified during the planning process and dismissed as inconsequential or minimal by Aquind: contamination from old landfill during digging and bentonite escape or loss when drilling through sensitive wildlife habitats; noise disturbance to protected sea and water birds; illegal limits of air pollution from construction vehicles and re-directed traffic. The late inclusion of affected allotment holders to the consultation illustrates how far the environment was from ‘the heart’ of this project.

“Aquind Interconnector will help reduce the impact of volatile gas and coal prices, which are the reasons behind growing electricity bills this autumn and winter. It will help reduce UK energy prices with estimated savings for consumers of several billion pounds over the first 25 years of the project’s operation.” 

Aquind may not be operational until 2028 by which time the current energy scenario that they quote will have changed. Good Energy predicts 15GW interconnector capacity will be needed by 2050.[2] By 2025, UK will have 13 interconnectors supplying 16GW[3] to manage fluctuations in supply and may well be a net exporter of energy. This scenario does not include Aquind and renders it redundant.

There is little evidence that interconnectors bring down energy prices. Without a EU energy trade deal, we cannot fully benefit from the cross-nation connectivity that helps to weather volatility and reduce prices. This interconnector is also unregulated, will householders really benefit?

ENDS


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/oct/04/viktor-fedotov-aquind-alexander-temerko-semyon-vainshtok-respond

[2] Renewable Nation: Pathways to a Zero-carbon Britain (2021) Good Energy.

[3] Source: National Grid. Operational: IFA2 1GW, IFA 2GW, EWIC .5GW, Moyle .5GW, BritNed 1GW, North Sea Link 1.4. Future: Nemo Link 1GW, Greenlink .5GW 2023, FabLink 1.4GW 2025, ElectLink 1GW 2022, Gridlink 1.4GW 2024, Neu Connect 1.4GW 2024, Viking 1.4 2023, North Connect 1.4 2025. Total 15.9GW.

NOTES TO EDITORS
Let’s Stop Aquind is a community pressure group with the sole aim of stopping the Aquind Interconnector, a High Voltage electric cable planned to connect Northern France with a sub-station at Lovedean in the South Downs at a cost of £1.2 billion. Far from providing cheap or “green” energy, the Interconnector would bring French nuclear power to the national grid at an unregulated price for private profit, and would contradict the government’s policy of developing secure and sustainable energy sources locally.

Organised around a Facebook group with more than 3600 members, Let’s Stop Aquind is a broad coalition of citizens, local politicians and businesses concerned about the environmental impact of the cable, the chaos and pollution it would cause to the Portsmouth and the wider region, and the ownership, funding and political activities of the company behind the proposal. Let’s Stop Aquind has the support of every councillor on Portsmouth City Council including the leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan and Portsmouth North Conservative MP and Minister Penny Mordaunt.

The Interconnector is backed by Aquind Limited, a company with an opaque ownership structure and a history of offshore funding, but no experience of managing large scale engineering projects.

The Interconnector project would last 5-7 years and threatens the environment of rare migrating and wading birds, would cause irreparable damage to precious green spaces adjacent to the Langstone Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest, would cut through and pollute the land under the main allotments in Portsmouth, would occupy (in some cases permanently) numerous sporting facilities and public spaces, could potentially disturb landfill contaminated with asbestos and other hazardous materials and would result in a steep increase in airborne pollution in an already dangerously polluted city, thanks to the construction traffic and the chaos caused by digging up one of the 3 roads linking Portsmouth (the second most densely populated city in the UK) to the mainland.

Let’s Stop Aquind believes that the Interconnector project should never have been granted the status of Nationally Significant Infrastructure, which has meant that the approval process has been taken out of local hands and entrusted to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng. Furthermore, Let’s Stop Aquind and its supporters see the Aquind Interconnector as a threat to national security – where our energy sources would be put in the hands of a foreign power and in the care of an entirely inappropriate and obscure private company with an unusual history of generous political patronage.

Kwasi Kwarteng has recently announced a 6 week delay to the decision to grant the Development Consent Order sought by Aquind, which will now be made by 21 October 2021.

Let’s Stop Aquind can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at stopaquind.com.

Southsea media company Strong Island Media has produced a number of videos explaining the issues behind Aquind and the grassroots campaign against it which are available on YouTube here.

One Comment

  1. Well worded.

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