UK High Court quashes decision to reject £1.35 bn, 2GW interconnector

The UK High Court has quashed the decision brought at the beginning of 2022 to reject a £1.35 billion, 2 GW electricity interconnector between the UK and France.

AQUIND Limited

Kwasi Kwarteng, at that time Secretary of State for Business (BEIS), in January 2022 refused consent for the AQUIND interconnector despite the Planning Inspectorate’s report recommending that consent be granted for the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).

In March 2022, AQUIND Limited sought permission to pursue a judicial review of the decision by the Secretary of State for Business to refuse the Development Consent Order (DCO).

According to the company, the case centered on the assessment of alternatives and the claim was successful due to failure to take into account relevant evidence relating to alternatives and to apply National Policy Statement EN-1 policies relating to the assessment of alternatives, failure to discharge the duty set out in Section 104 of the Planning Act 2008 in respect of how decisions must be taken, as well as breach of the Tameside duty to take reasonable steps to inform so as to be able to discharge the relevant statutory duties.

Richard Glasspool, Director of AQUIND, said: “This is wonderful news for the AQUIND Interconnector project. We were dismayed and disappointed when Kwasi Kwarteng refused the Development Consent Order. We look forward to re-engaging with local residents, stakeholders, environmental experts, and energy professionals in order to pursue the commitment to meeting the UK’s Net Zero energy target.

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AQUIND applied for a DCO on 14 November 2019. The Examining Authority appointed by the Planning Inspectorate carried out the examination of the application until 8 March 2021.

In the report, the ExA concluded that it “… is satisfied that the Applicant has set out a compelling case for the need for the Proposed Development”.

The planned AQUIND interconnector will be approximately 238 kilometers long. With a 2 GW capacity, the link will be able to transmit up to 17 TWh per year, equivalent to 5 per cent of Great Britain’s and 3 per cent of France’s total annual electricity consumption.

The pre-construction stage of the project is near completion. As soon as the Secretary of State grants the development consent AQUIND will complete the tender process and proceed to the initial phase of the construction.

The project is expected to create 1,000 direct and indirect full-time jobs during the two-year construction period.