More industrial site needed for electric power transmission link
CPRE Hampshire calls for a more industrial site to be found for a proposed new nationally significant energy infrastructure project linking the British and French electric power grids.
The Aquind Interconnector project is a new subsea and underground High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electric power transmission link between Portsmouth and Normandy, France. After conversion to Alternating Current (AC) the power would join the National Grid via the existing substation at Lovedean, in the southern part of East Hampshire.
Current proposals by Aquind Ltd would see at Lovedean a Convertor Station including two convertor halls, each measuring 90 metres in length, 50 metres in width and notably 22-26 metres in height. These would be very large buildings, with a height well in excess of even the largest agricultural buildings and mature trees. The site is surrounded on three sides by the South Downs National Park.
Christopher Napier OBE, of CPRE Hampshire’s Planning and Policy Group, says: “The first purpose of our national parks is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the national parks. Given the high sensitivity and high value of the landscape of the South Downs National Park (SDNP), buildings of this scale, utilitarian appearance and form sited in this location could not but cause significant harm to the setting of the SDNP.
The significant adverse impact on landscape character, visual amenity and tranquillity of the SDNP would be contrary to the first national park purpose, and so significantly compromise the purpose of designation of the SDNP.”
CPRE Hampshire says that a more industrial site needs to be found, even if this would involve additional expense at another substation to improve capacity to evacuate power, as has been done with other interconnector schemes.
The countryside charity also has serious concerns about noise from operation of the converter halls in what, despite the existing Lovedean substation, is a largely tranquil rural area. The Monarchs Way long distance trail passes close by. Electrical noise can carry over large distances and be disruptive to enjoyment of the countryside by the public.
CPRE Hampshire also states that the proposals would be contrary to national and local planning policies for the protection of local landscape, views and tranquillity, including those contained in the newly adopted South Downs Local Plan, and the East Hampshire District and Winchester District Local Plans.
As a nationally significant project it is subject to Examination by the Planning Inspectorate. CPRE Hampshire has registered as an Interested Party and made a Representation summarising its position which can be viewed here NSIP Registration. Representation for Aquind Interconnector 29 January 2020. A Preliminary Examination Meeting set for 22 April has been postponed due to the Covid 19 emergency.