The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.
Received 19 February 2020
From Shelagh Simmons
“We wish to object to this application for the following reasons. There has been a complete lack of information over the last 2 years which has meant that the proposed route of the cable was not made available in a timely fashion. It was drawn up (date on the map in the plans on the government website – Aquind Connector) on 7th November 2019 but was not published until more than a month later; this was during the Christmas period (the busiest time of the year) and a General Election campaign. It has therefore left a limited amount of time for residents who will be most affected to process and assess this important information. Moreover, it was not published in a ‘user-friendly’ format but released in a series of hundreds of documents. The route map was within these so not easily accessible. Residents feel that the consultation has been inadequate and have felt excluded from the process. For example, those in Fort Cumberland Road were unaware of the landfall of the cable in the car park, which would cause huge disruption to their road. There is also a legitimate concern about the lifeboat station and any disruption that these works could cause that may add extra time to their journey. In addition, there is a proposed new development of 134 homes at Fraser Range (just past the Fort Cumberland car park). It is claimed this has been taken into account in the cumulative assessment but with a single road to the site, this will cause huge issues for the residents as well as to the users of Southsea Marina, the lifeboat station, the Hayling Ferry and the nearby beach. Furthermore, dissemination of information has been poor. At the end of 2019/beginning of 2020, Aquind provided information on memory sticks to certain libraries across the city. However, for residents in Baffins, Milton and Eastney, the nearest library was in the city centre or Southsea. The libraries at Milton and Baffins were not included, making it difficult for many residents – especially those with mobility issues and/or reliant on public transport - to access the information. A leaflet sent out in May 2019 stated that out of 155 responses received by Aquind, 52% supported or were neutral regarding the proposed approach to the cable route’. 155 responses can hardly be said to be representative in an area as densely populated as ours, and since the route was only recently publicised those responses cannot have been based on complete information. We are also deeply concerned that the decision has not only been taken out of Portsmouth City Council’s hands, but out of the hands of the surrounding councils who also face the cable coming through their boundaries yet only have consultee status. The Secretary of State has not even visited to discuss this plan with council leaders and officers. The level of opposition to this proposal from residents and all political parties in Portsmouth shows that this transcends party politics. All councillors are worried about the effect this will have on their wards and residents A climate emergency has been declared in Portsmouth and other cities across the UK. If the Government approves this application it will destroy habitats and vegetation, close access to green areas and community spaces and ignore serious air quality issues. It will flout necessary zero carbon measures and disrupt many lives. The cables are proposed to go through or next to major junctions and roads including the Eastern road, A and B roads and residential roads. Portsmouth residents know that there are only 3 roads on and off this island city and if there are any accidents or road works, our city is grid locked. What is proposed along the Eastern Road would cause chaos across the city. It would lead to huge amounts of air pollution due to queueing cars and could also damage our economy as people will not want to come into Portsmouth if they know that they could be stuck in traffic for large amounts of time. At a time of climate emergency, the Government should be looking to provide reassurance during major projects that zero carbon initiatives will be used to help mitigate air quality problems. Yet there has been no such reassurance from either the Government or Aquind. During a Milton Forum Public Meeting, Councillor Darren Sanders asked whether the project would be looking at zero carbon emissions and received no satisfactory answer. We have a huge issue with air quality in parts of the city, so much so that the Government is considering enforcing air quality zones. Yet at the same time, it is considering a huge project that would add to the climate emergency and air quality issues through traffic build up/congestion and emissions from building equipment and transportation. This is while refusing to help with extra funding that Portsmouth needs to combat these issues, including free bus passes for residents or sustainable transport (among other suggestions). We are trying to do our bit. The Government needs to support us in our efforts rather than undermine us by approving a project that would do such damage. The Scoping Report suggests that Portsmouth City Council should only comment regarding the environmental impact relating to the landfall. There is no suggestion that it should comment on the route of the cabling even though it will go through some of the busiest roads in the city as well as one of 3 roads out of the city, causing misery for the inhabitants of the city in general. (1.3.2 in Part 1 of the Scoping Report submitted to Portsmouth City Council). Additionally, the report states that ‘during excavation and laying cables in roads, it is proposed that roads go down to one lane whilst works are ongoing to ‘limit the impact on the local community during cable installation works’. This adds to the evidence that it would cause huge disruption across the city. Furthermore, regarding concerns about environmental impacts, Section 3 states: 3.8.1 In the context of the above, the construction and operation of the Proposed Development may lead to significant environmental effects on the following parameters, although effects could be limited in their temporal and geographical scope: • Traffic and Transport; • Air Quality; • Nosie and Vibration; • Landscape and Visual; • Heritage and Archaeology; • Ecology (with Arboriculture); • Socio-economics; • Water Resources and Flood Risk; • Ground Conditions; • Carbon and Climate Change; • Human Health; • Soils and Land Use; • Electric and Magnetic Fields; and • Waste and Material Resources. This shows the wide-ranging impact this would have on many different species and plant life not just in Langstone Harbour but at the allotments, Farlington Marshes and Bransbury Park. There appears to be no mitigation for residents who would lose access to their open, green and community spaces for the duration of this work. There are high levels of obesity and long-term ill health in the city and people need these spaces for their physical and mental well-being. A news report (3rd May /2018 – ‘Obesity-related hospital admissions in Portsmouth increase’ The News, Portsmouth) states that Portsmouth had the third highest number of total obesity related admissions in the Wessex region in 2016 and the highest rate per 100,000 people. We could not afford to lose these spaces even for a short time. Fishermen are already concerned about the affects the cable would have on where they fish in the Solent but there are also concerns relating to the Harbour. We were told that as the Harbour is a designated Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI), the cables could not be placed there. However, the new plans show that part of the route involves the cables going from the Eastern Road across the Harbour and coming out at Farlington Marshes. Why is it thought permissible to put the cables across this part of the Harbour but nowhere else? What effect would this have on the wildlife that live in the Harbour? Why could the cables not make landfall elsewhere closer to Lovedean, such as to the east of Hayling or via Thorney Island? That would mean less disruption to many people and would be closer to the proposed substation. Furthermore, why could existing routes used by others not be repurposed/shared? Southern Water has 2 concrete tunnels under the Harbour. Was the possible sharing of these ever discussed? And why choose Portsmouth? It is the most densely populated city outside of London and is an island city with 3 roads on and off. This is a city with an air quality issue, a large population density and a protected Harbour and nature reserve to the east. There would also be lost green space at the power station proposed location in Lovedean, which is now proposed to be several buildings with a height of up to 22m, and which is causing considerable concern to residents there too. Why could it not make landfall somewhere that would not have all the issues we as a city face? 66 weeks is the proposed/estimated time that this work would take to complete. This means that this project would take over a year (and that is also not including any delays or problems that may come about whilst digging the trenches). That is 66 weeks of disruption for the city with no break and no benefit to well over 210,000 residents who live and work here. Two 0.7m trenches are required for the interconnector. This would cause disruption twice over because they cannot be placed during the same excavation due to the combined effect of the magnetic field. There are many unanswered questions that residents have. It is common knowledge that when Milton Common was reclaimed, a protective skin was laid onto it to help contain the methane gas that is produced beneath. There does not appear to have been any consideration given to the possible impact of any work undertaken at this location. Furthermore, residents near the route would like to know the impact drilling or any type of work undertaken may have on their properties and insurance premiums. Residents have contacted Aquind but have reported that the phone goes unanswered and emails have received no response. We as residents feel let down by Aquind and the Government. We feel let down that our own council has had its right to decide this removed. We feel let down that the Secretary of State has not come to have direct talks with the local authorities affected. We feel let down that Aquind has not kept residents informed about the route and we also feel let down that residents have felt under threat of possibly losing their homes. We are disappointed that Aquind has not kept us updated and that vital information was not made available in a timely manner and user-friendly format. We also feel let down that the Government has refused any mitigating funding to help with air quality issues should this application be approved. We are deeply concerned that our community and open spaces would be sacrificed were this to go ahead and habitats, plant life and wildlife would be lost too. We know that it would cause chaos and disruption for over a year people living and working in Portsmouth. We implore the Planning Inspector - as well as Aquind and the Government - to reconsider this project. Rather than forcing this project onto Portsmouth and Hampshire Councils, we hope that other options can be considered. Trust in the system is low so we also hope that our views will properly be taken into consideration and are not just part of a ‘tick box’ exercise. We hope that this application will not be allowed or at least, will be reconsidered for somewhere else on the South Coast away from any cities that face similar issues to ours. We implore whoever is reading this to consider all that has been said and understand our perspective as residents who will have to live with the choices you are about to make. It will probably not personally affect you, but it will affect the lives and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of residents in terms of health, safety and general day to day life. Please take note of our objections and the number of objections that you will be receiving from the residents of Portsmouth and further afield. We object to the Aquind Interconnector.”