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Much more controversially but not mentioned at all in Fareham’s strategy document is the proposal to site an electricity interconnector building (IFA2) Fareham Planning Application P/16/0557/OA near the Peel Common corner of the Daedalus and notice has been that pre-installation survey works for the cable will take place in the Solent commencing at the end of August 2017 and expected to be clear of the Solent by the end of September 2017.”  

IFA2 will exchange and convert electricity generated in France for connection with the UK National Grid.  Until recently France had excess power generation capacity from Nuclear Power but just recently many nuclear generators have been shut down due to safety issues. The IFA2 is well covered elsewhere on this website so this article will mainly address the planning issues. In planning terms its is an outline application for IFA2 and the remaining open space area between the interconnector fence and Peel Common roundabout, the planning committee will have to re-consider the converter building plans once completed and submitted, although approval has been granted in principal.  A full application was made for the cable runs across Daedalus and over the beach as well as the cable runs into the current Chilling termination site.

As this has full approval - work can be started.

Your 3 local Residents Associations, our MP, local Councillors, Gosport Council, the Gosport Society and over a thousand other residents all raised Planning Objection Letters opposing the Interconnector.  Additionally our MP, Councillors, Local Societies and Associations and several others all voiced formal deputations at the planning meeting held by Fareham Borough Council's Regulatory Board in January. The objections identified that IFA2 ignores Fareham’s own planning policies such as “CS22 Development in Strategic Gaps”, damages the integrity and visual separation of the green open space between settlements, prejudices the further development of the Airfield, the Enterprise Zone and even raises questions over long-term health risks.  

Nonetheless, as far as Fareham Council is concerned it would appear the pecuniary benefits outweigh the risks to local residents as well as the future of the Airfield and local economy. Fareham Councillors obviously want the Interconnector to proceed despite countering their own policies and incurring so many risks.

The Local Residents Associations, our MP, and local Councillors asked the Secretary of State to “call in” this application which means the Secretary of State is asked to review the plans prior to approval, controversially FBC decided to approve the plans anyway, while this seems a clear breach of procedural protocol, the government does not seem willing to take any action over the Fareham’s unilateral action.  Our MP and the Residents Associations are working together to see what further options are available, meanwhile preparatory engineering works appear to have started.

While LRA is not opposed to the Interconnector or its function, the siting of the Interconnector is still questionable, why it this the only one of the 8 operational/proposed interconnectors to be set within a residential area and there are certainly questions about its impact on the viability of the Daedalus Economic Zone and Solent Airport Daedalus.  Chilling, the National Grids preferred location is right next to where power connects to the National Grid and would have much less human impact and be less costly in subsidy for all electricity consumers. More logically siting IFA2 within the power station/industrial complex at Fawley seems ideal as it already has standby power generation and a ready connection to the grid. Environmentally any new infrastructure at Fawley would blend into the current backdrop of power facilities.

The viability of the IFA2 project is also brought into question by the fact that France is planning to shut 17 of its 58 nuclear reactors by 2025 as part of their Green Transition policy.  Will France supply us rather than her EU partners and if so at what cost?  All this more than underlines the case many experts make that modern UK Power generating facilities would be cheaper and more reliable than hope of ‘spare’ French power supplied through interconnectors like IFA2.  Generating our own UK power certainly be more cost effective for UK electricity consumers at present and projected energy prices.  So why are we still proceeding with IFA2?  A valid question, however, it will swell the business portfolio for National Grid and the site in Daedalus will certainly help FBC’s cash-flow;  so as your electricity bill rises together with the big shed in the corner of Daedalus airfield you can be sure it benefits somebody; although perhaps not the electricity consumer who will be paying for it!