Government says no to UK-France interconnector

The development consent for the proposed AQUIND interconnector, a 2GW subsea and underground high voltage direct current (HVDC) power transmission project between France and the UK, has been refused.

On 20 January 2022, the UK’s Secretary of State published a decision to refuse development consent for the project expressing the concern over the “proposed landfall in an urban location” and stating that “…it is exceptionally necessary to consider whether sufficient consideration has been given to whether there are more appropriate alternatives to the proposed route”.

“In particular, consideration needs to be given to the alternative substations initially identified by the Applicant (and therefore alternative onshore routes avoiding the above harms) and whether these were adequately considered to determine whether the potential harms caused by the development from the selected route could have been avoided or reduced”, the decision letter reads.

Commenting on the decision, a spokesperson for the AQUIND expressed the project developers’ disappointment over the refused application “despite the existing Government policy promoting the development of new interconnectors and the benefits the project would bring, which are acknowledged in the decision of the Secretary of State. We draw attention to the recommendation by the apolitical, independent Examining Authority that found strongly in favour of AQUIND Interconnector”.

The spokesperson added that the developers disagree with the decision of the Secretary of State, and the rationale behind it and are considering the decision, the grounds for the refusal, and a potential legal challenge.

“We will continue the development of AQUIND Interconnector, and we will be engaging with the relevant parties in the coming weeks”, the statement said.

It was also highlighted that, with the ability to transmit up to 5% of Great Britain’s (GB) annual electricity consumption, the interconnector will help reduce the impact of volatile gas and coal prices as well as integrate a greater proportion of non-fossil fuel energy sources and intermittent renewables into the GB energy mix, helping meet the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target by reducing CO2 emissions by 40-70 million tonnes over 25 years.

Source: AQUIND

The planned £1.2 billion (around $1.6 billion) AQUIND interconnector is approximately 238 kilometres in length and comprises subsea and underground cables connecting converter stations in both the UK and France.

In the UK, four high-voltage direct current underground cables are planned to connect the subsea cables from the landing point at Eastney to a new converter station at Lovedean in Hampshire.

According to the project, an underground data cable is also required to maintain the interconnector and facilitate communications between the UK and France.

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