Readers of this blog will know about Aquind, the proposed new electricity installation by Lovedean Sub station.
This proposed new structure covering between 15 and 22.5 acres of land would, if approved, incorporate buildings up to 22m tall. This would be the UK connection point for a France / UK under sea power cable to send electricity either way at peak demand when either country is not generating enough for their own needs. This will probably be us as we are not getting on with our power station replacement effectively.
The investors behind this scheme have submitted an EIA Screening Application to both East Hants and Winchester for two different possible locations which are shown on the map below:
What is an EIA Screening Application?
EIA stands for Environment Impact Assessment. This identifies the type of submission and consultation period that any subsequent planning application must take. It is NOT a planning application where a decision will be issued but one step before to clarify the level of detail that would be required to accompany any application.
What is the purpose of Environmental Impact Assessment?
The aim of Environmental Impact Assessment is to protect the environment by ensuring that a local planning authority when deciding whether to grant planning permission for a project, which is likely to have significant effects on the environment, does so in the full knowledge of the likely significant effects, and takes this into account in the decision making process. The regulations set out a procedure for identifying those projects which should be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment, and for assessing, consulting and coming to a decision on those projects which are likely to have significant environmental effects.
The aim of Environmental Impact Assessment is also to ensure that the public are given early and effective opportunities to participate in the decision making procedures.
The EIA covers the following: Traffic and Transport, Air Quality, Noise and Vibration, Landscape and Visual, Heritage and Archaeology, Ecology and Arboriculture, Socio-Economics, Water resources and flood risks, Ground Conditions, Carbon and Climate Change, Human Health, Soils and land Use, Electric and Magnetic Fields, Waste and Material Resources.
The application supporting documentation includes a number of drawings and details of the entire project including the details of the works on the France side of the proposed installation, undersea works and cable route from Southsea to Lovedean. In part it is a very informative description of the whole project. It also makes hunting for the relevant information for us a little harder.
So. The most important question – “Where is it going?” – Well, We, and Aquind, they say, don’t know. They have 2 possible locations. One in East Hants and one in Winchester. So, they have submitted an EIA screening application to both planning authorities.
Ultimately as a private enterprise (this is not a government backed scheme or identified as a project of national importance) they will be looking for 1) the installation most likely to get planning and 2) lowest cost installation. At this point they have most likely identified the site with the lowest purchase and installation cost.
As Lovedean Substation straddles the boundaries of two planning authorities there is no reason why they should look at options in each. It gives a chance to weigh up how each local authority feels about the installation. On this scheme being as confident as possible about planning has a far greater value than the cost difference between the two land options. Genius.
In one option, Winchester will be weighing up a project on the outer fringes of their district with less local representation but with the SDNPA having greater interest. In the other case in EHDC with lots of local representation and probably a harder application. At this point it is important to note that the planning officers at EHDC and Winchester are discussing the project between them to ensure a joined up approach which may work against Aquind as multiple minds are considering this now and may result in a more substantive reply.
So will there be an EIA?
In short, yes. The applicant has stated that they would prepare and submit one and the scoping report in pages 150 to 157 identifies what they propose to submit. The next step would be for each local authority to assess if they agree with this, or require further information.
Scoping Report Page 8:
The Proposed Development does not constitute either Schedule 1 Development or Schedule 2 Development. However, due to the environmental and human sensitivities within and surrounding the Proposed Development, the Applicant has chosen to voluntarily undertake an EIA and prepare and submit an ES with the Application to report the likely significant effects.
So, this application isn’t about if the development should proceed, but the level of detail required to support it. NOTHING will be decided in principal. Just the level of detail required to support it.
You can still give comments on the application and the cut off date is the 13th March. the best way is direct on the planning portal using the link below. You can also email Cllr Sara Schillemore who will either have it in her ward, or be the closest ward to it. She is on firstname.lastname@example.org
At this point it is worth looking at the works outside of the main building. They will, if allowed, be significant and incredibly disruptive.
Two Pairs of cables about 4m apart will be laid at a depth of 1.2m so the road will be dug up twice. (They cant be placed in the same excavation as the combined effect of the magnetic field becomes an issue).
The cable route passes through Portsmouth, Havant and into East Hants. Hampshire County Council have an interest outside of Portsmouth for the highway works too.
Looking ahead, there are a lot of hurdles for Aquind to jump through but cable installation is not going to stop a project like this. The key significant decider will be what planning authority they select for the designated target site and how that planning authority decides the application and any subsequent appeals that might take place.
We understand that an application will be submitted later this year.
View the EIA application on the EHDC planning portal click HERE
For more information on EIA in general click HERE
To view the full EIA screening supporting application report (174 pages long) click on this link EIA Scoping Report to download a PDF
To view the accompanying drawings for the application including the two possible locations, cable routes and more click on this link EIA Screening Drawings