Portsmouth, Hampshire – Wednesday 1 March 2023
Community pressure group Let’s Stop Aquind has revitalised its long-running campaign against the Aquind Interconnector in response to the recent high court judgement in favour of Aquind Limited, which quashed the government’s original decision not to allow the project.
As all parties wait for Secretary of State for Energy Grant Shapps to issue further directions on how he intends to re-determine the decision, Let’s Stop Aquind yesterday launched an online open letter directed to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Grant Shapps, making a powerful case for the Aquind Interconnector plans to be permanently dropped and demanding protection from the oligarch owners of Aquind.
Viola Langley, Co-founder of the group explained why the campaign is more important than ever:
“We are reaching a crucial stage of the process and it is vital the voice of Portsmouth is heard in government. After last year’s decision, many people along the route think the whole project has simply gone away, but it is hanging in the balance once again. We have to warn people what this project would mean for the environment, and while we pleased that the original decision made by Kwasi Kwarteng went in our favour, we need to know that our government will still protect us from oligarchs who want to rip up our city for private profit.”
The open letter has been an immediate success with nearly 300 people adding their names within the first 24 hours. This illustrates how the campaign has struck a chord with not just residents along the route, but people all over the Portsmouth area. One of the central concerns is how the city would cope with the years of construction required to lay the proposed cross-channel high voltage cables and private communications network from landfall at Eastney through to Lovedean in the South Downs.
Paula Savage, environmental campaigner and Co-founder of Let’s Stop Aquind, spoke about the strength of feeling against the project:
“We are seeing a wave of new people join our Facebook group in the last few weeks as it sinks in that the threat of Aquind is hanging over us again. Despite hundreds of objections made by local people in the original examination of the plans, our voices were ignored by the Planning Inspectorate and we have to speak up. The city is united against the Aquind Interconnector and we see through the fake claims of cheap electricity Aquind has made to justify destroying our precious green spaces, public amenities and delicate wildlife habitats. There is also a lot of anger about the relationship between Aquind and the Conservative Party, which has accepted more than £1.5 million in donations from Aquind Limited, its owners and directors. It’s astonishing that the two most powerful men in government, the Prime Minster and Chancellor, have accepted these donations alongside 32 other Conservative MP’s currently sitting in Parliament. In fact, Jeremy Hunt’s constituency has accepted the most of all – £72,500 since 2019, from a company owned by Soviet-born oligarchs. People have simply had enough and are asking questions about how this can be legal, and what are Aquind expecting for their money?“
The renewed interest in Let’s Stop Aquind’s grassroots campaign will see the group once again try to raise awareness of the risks of the project along the route from Portsmouth, through Purbrook, Waterlooville and Denmead to Lovedean. Leaflets, posters and craftivism as well as the open letter, social media and stopaquind.com website will be used to get the message across.
Viola Langley reflected on the recent surge in activity since the high court setback:
“There are still people along the route who don’t know about this project at all, and many more who don’t know about the pollution it would cause; the toxic waste that would be disturbed by the construction or even the impact of the gridlock and chaos from digging up Eastern Road, which would faced by the football club and businesses throughout the city. Both Portsmouth MP’s, the Leader of Portsmouth City Council and every city councillor across the political spectrum unanimously rejects the proposal. For the good of the city, we’re doing everything we can to shine a light on this bizarre company and its crazy project. We call on everyone to get involved by signing and sharing the open letter asking our political leaders to listen to Portsmouth, not oligarchs, and stop the Aquind Interconnector.“
You can add your name to the open letter here: https://bit.ly/stopaquindletter