About 9 months ago Aquind popped up and announced their intention to install a power cable connecting France to the UK so we can share surplus power during peak time (probably largely to us as we have little spare capacity).
The Lovedean sub station seems to be the only suitable connection point as everything to the east of here, or logical locations like the old Fawley Power Station, is full to capacity already.
Lovedean Sub Station
While we will want to truth test connection points elsewhere, Aquind wouldn’t be proposing to install about 20 miles of underground cables at an enormous cost if there were a cheaper connection point.
For the last 9 months we have been waiting for a planning application to appear. The process would then have been simple – the proposed land is allocated as countryside space in our local plan so this would have been contrary to the local plan and refusal a very justifiable next step by us. To be fair to be followed quickly by an appeal.
There is however an option available to Aquind which is to get the project accepted as a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ (NSIP) which then takes away the decision from the Local Planning Authority (us) and hands it to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to decide. (Someone a lot less interested in local issues)
Aquind have recently announced that the project has achieved this status.
So, where does that leave us now then?
If we were deciding the application there would have been a two pronged approach.
Firstly to look to challenge the location and ask why the large infrastructure of The Interconnector (15 to 22 acres of land with a building up to 22m high) couldn’t be sited elsewhere, for example the former HMS Daedalus base at Gosport on brown field land there and then an AC connection to the grid locally.
Secondly to look for sound sustainable reasons to refuse (not in our local plan, harmful to the countryside etc) – which would have resulted in an appeal
Thirdly to assume approval and look at the mitigation strategy. Digging down to reduce ridge height, consider ground source heat pumps to dump excess heat into the ground instead of noisy mechanical handling, satisfactorily addressing the him transformers give out and most important the external building facade design which could be a green roof with planting to make sure it was largely invisible in local views.
So, with the change in classification to the project we can still challenge the location and also look at significant mitigation as well to hedge both bets. We also need to arrange to meet with the Secretary of State at the right time to put forward our views.
The next steps…
We still need to wait for any planning application so we know what we are dealing with. We don’t even know if Aquind will pick the site in Winchester (further away from our communities but we then have very little say other than through Winchester) or between the proposed battery storage facility and the adjacent buildings behind broadway lane
Keep following this blog for updates and the links below may be of use: