Preventing the AQUIND interconnecter project running through Portsmouth

Dear resident,

I am writing to update you on our efforts to prevent the Aquind Interconnector project running through Portsmouth and surrounding area.

As you may be aware I have formally objected to the proposal to the Planning Inspectorate’s enquiry. 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, alongside these local concerns there are others which could impact on the whole country and effect other areas of policy too.

I have written to Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for BEIS, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for MHCLG and Lord Frost the Minister for Europe in the Cabinet Office to highlight these wider concerns about the project.

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

Under our Brexit deal with the EU, 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. More recently we saw another French Minister threatening to shut of power supplies to Jersey over a local fishing dispute. I do not think it is plausible to say the French would not dare to behave in such a way. They have threatened to, repeatedly.

Whatever our plans regarding the freedom to take back control of our exclusive economic zone 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.

The UK’s ambitions on the environment, on resilience and to maximise the full opportunities that come from Brexit are not helped by this scheme. I have urged 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 have left people in no doubt as to the strength of feeling from my city and many from across the Solent on this issue.

I am planning to present a petition on this matter and would be grateful if you have concerns about the project on either local or national grounds you would register them by visiting my website here. In addition to your local voice I am approaching a number of high-profile people and organisations who I think will share our concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP

Click here to register your concerns / join my petition

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