Penny Mordaunt MP calls for halt to interconnecter scheme

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for BEIS

Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for MHCLG

Dear Kwasi and Robert,

Aquind Interconnector, Portsmouth

I am writing in my capacity as the MP for Portsmouth North. I am deeply concerned about any plans the UK has to import electricity via this interconnector scheme. I have already formally objected to Aquind’s project as their intended route runs through Portsmouth. With only three roads on and off the island, this would cause huge disruption to the city, stall much-needed development and our recovery from the pandemic as well as negatively impacting the local environment. Portsmouth City Council has also objected to the project and the chosen route.

However, in addition to these objections, I think there are serious strategic errors with relying on such programmes to deliver energy for the UK, both in terms of the UK's resilience but also wider issues concerned with future negotiations.

Under the TCA, at France’s insistence, the Energy Chapter runs out in 2026 at the same time as the Fishing agreement. They have been specific that the reason for this is to hold energy cooperation as a price for further access to UK fishing grounds (Minister le Drian’s speech to France 3 Bretagne in January of this year being one example of this).

It will be argued that the EU could not stop a French energy company selling to the UK, but increasing our dependence on French nuclear increases the likelihood it will become politicised and involved in any future discussions, in particular on fishing. To do so seems a bad idea and one I am sure UK fishermen would not support. We saw with the vaccine Article 122 issue that is at least possible. Whatever our plans regarding the freedom to take back control of our EEZ and for the UK to become a more resilient nation they are not served by reliance on such energy supplies.

Nor are there clear upsides for the UK either, as the European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET) have pointed out, because of pricing differences and uncertainty when cross border capacity is booked.

Our ambitions on the environment, on resilience and to maximise the full opportunities that come from Brexit are not helped by this scheme. I would urge that these issues are considered in full before determining if the scheme should go ahead. I have been raising these concerns since December 2018 and cannot overstate the strength of feeling from my city and many from across the Solent on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP

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