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AQUIND Energy Interconnector

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 6 July 2021

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has until 8 September 2021 to take his decision on whether or not to grant development consent for the proposal.

I have long represented Portsmouth’s opposition to AQUIND, which would cause untold disruption to our communities and no clear benefits to my city. There are serious concerns about the company, its murky financing and the influence that its leaders have over Ministers who are responsible for giving the project the go-ahead. Last weekend, I launched a petition to give a real voice to local people who are opposed to the development. With no Secretary of State present today, will the Minister listen to the weight of concerns from my constituents and reject the damaging and suspicious proposals?

Local communities have had the opportunity to raise concerns during the examination undertaken by the Planning Inspectorate. The Secretary of State will consider all relevant matters—I will ensure that I pass on the hon. Gentleman’s message—when he takes a decision, but as it is a live planning application I cannot comment further.

Is the Minister aware that we are talking about a company that, as its sole activity, is proposing to build an interconnector with France, that has attempted to get itself exempted from all the rules governing interconnectors, and that is now extraordinarily seeking Government backing to trash parts of Portsmouth to land its cable? Throughout all of this, it has never traded and is completely reliant for its existence on loans from unnamed overseas companies. But it has been active as a company in one other area: giving huge donations to the Conservative party and a number of its MPs to the tune of £1.1 million, either from the company itself or through the good offices of its part-owner. Now, perhaps in return, it wants the Government to support its rackety scheme through the Secretary of State’s personally approving its planning application. This whole thing stinks. I ask Ministers to call a halt to this seedy enterprise and certainly not endorse its wild and inappropriate planning proposals.

As previously stated, the Secretary of State for BEIS will have until 8 September 2021 to take his decision on whether to grant development consent on this proposal.