A proposal for the £1.2bn Aquind energy interconnector from France to the UK has been rejected by the government.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today rejected the proposal for the undersea cable, writing that the adverse effects it would have on a series of Portsmouth landmarks and commercial ventures “outweighed” the need for the interconnector.
He said “there was a failure to adequately consider the original alternatives identified by the applicant” and that “it is not possible to conclude that the need for and benefits of the proposed Development would outweigh its impacts”.
The project had been controversial as the chief of Aquind is Alexander Temerko – a prominent Tory party donor.
Temerko, a USSR-born British citizen, has given more than £1m to the party.
The project had also been fiercely opposed by local Portsmouth MPs, including trade minister Penny Mordaunt.
Mordaunt argued that not only would building the interconnector seriously damage the city, but that it was also a threat to national security.
She, and others, said the UK should not be reliant on other countries like France to directly supply power to the UK.
Proponents of the project argued that it would have boosted the UK’s long-term supply of energy in the wake of spiralling global energy prices.
Responding to the decision, Mordaunt said: “We won. Thank you to everyone who campaigned against Aquind and its ridiculous proposal that would have damaged our city and it would have damaged the country.
“It shows despite all the odds against us if you stand up for what you believe in and fight for it you can actually change things.”
A spokesperson for Aquind said the company was considering a legal challenge against Kwarteng’s decision.
“We believe our application for a Development Consent Order to be accurate and robust, and it has met all the requirements. We will continue the development of AQUIND Interconnector, and we will be engaging with the relevant parties in the coming weeks,” they said.
“With the ability to transmit up to 5 per cent of Great Britain’s annual electricity consumption – enough to power nearly 5m British homes – Aquind Interconnector will help reduce the impact of volatile gas and coal prices, which have caused electricity bills to increase this autumn and winter.”