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.
Our voice has been loud and insistent throughout. We have fought back time and time again to stop our democratic rights from being eroded. Communities cannot be cut off from decision-making by the cosy relationships business and ministers create with their political donations, revolving doors and contracts for mates.
We are certain that the Business Secretary’s decision is one that he will uphold. The risks Aquind poses to wildlife habitats, residents’ health and well-being, to businesses and to national security are too great. However, we have been shocked and angry that it has fallen on ordinary citizens in Portsmouth to call out a major national security risk and be forced to hold Ministers to account for breaching standards in public life.
We will carry on campaigning for improved political accountability and the closing of legal loopholes that allow foreign money to influence political decision-making. We do not want other communities to have to face a similar scenario.