Update: South Downs and Central District Group

27th April 2021

News from the South Downs and Central District

The focus of recent planning work in the South Downs and Central Group has continued to be on the two very large projects in the countryside of East Hampshire reported in the last edition of Hampshire Views.

Veolia have applied to replace their recycling plant near Alton with an incinerator to generate electricity from unrecyclable waste. This 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 submitted as being a Valued Landscape. So, unacceptable visual impact is the main ground of our objection, but also that there would be an adverse effect on recycling of waste in Hampshire if the existing recycling plant is replaced by an incinerator. Some of our points were quoted in requests from Hampshire County Council to Veolia for more information, following over 3,000 objections to the planning application. There has now been a further consultation on the information supplied by Veolia, which show yet more landscape and visual amenity impacts on the national park and its setting and fail to show a need for the plant or justification for the carbon impact it would create. We have made a strong response.

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. The Examination of this Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project is drawing to a close, and in a concluding submission we have reiterated our concern that the two converter halls, each 90 metres long, 50 metres wide and 26 metres in height, are surrounded on three sides by the South Downs National Park from which they would be clearly visible, notably from the important Monarchs Way long-distance footpath. The decision of the Secretary of State will be one of deciding between the need for electricity from France and impact on the national park. There is also an issue as to why sites away from the national park were rejected by Aquind at an early stage.

As a first stage in development of a new Local Plan, Winchester City Council are consulting on Issues and Priorities to which we will be responding after discussion within our Winchester Planning Group.

Our two annual quiz nights had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions but, with thanks to all those who contributed, a virtual raffle was held instead which raised almost £1,000 for CPRE Hampshire (see page 3 of Hampshire Views).

Christopher Napier
South Downs and Central District Group Chairman

Veolia's plans for an incinerator building 40 metres high with twin 80 metre stacks