Update: South Downs and Central District Group
News from the South Downs and Central District
The focus of recent planning work in the South Downs and Central District Group has been on two very large projects in the countryside of East Hampshire, one to the north and one to the south of the District.
Veolia hope to replace their recycling plant near Alton with an incinerator to generate electricity from unrecyclable waste. This is preferable to landfill but requires a building 40 metres high with twin 80 metre stacks, which would dominate the Wey Valley to the east of Alton. To the south of the site is the South Downs National Park and to the north a piece of fine countryside which we have assessed on the ground as a Valued Landscape and is crossed by the much-used St Swithun’s Way long-distance path.
So, unacceptable visual impact is the main ground of the objection made to Hampshire County Council, which is the planning authority for waste projects. We say that, if needed at all, this incinerator should be sited in an industrial area, as envisaged in the Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan.
The other large project is the proposed Aquind Interconnector to exchange electricity with France through Direct Current cables coming ashore at Eastney and then underground to a site near the National Grid substation at Lovedean. The current must then be converted to Alternating Current before transmission to the substation, and vice versa. This requires two converter halls, each 90 metres long, 50 metres wide and 26 metres in height.
Our main concern is that the site of these two very large buildings is almost surrounded by the South Downs National Park, from which they would be visible, notably from the Monarchs Way long-distance footpath.
This scheme is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, so the final decision will be taken by the Secretary of State after an Examination by a panel of three Inspectors, which is now ongoing until March 2021. We will shortly submit to the Examination our Written Representation setting out our concerns. CPRE Hampshire registered as an Interested Party and made a preliminary Representation summarising our position on 29 January. We also issued a news release in March calling for a more industrial site to be found. (Both available from www.cprehampshire.org.uk).
South Downs and Central District Group Chairman