Proposed electricity pipeline could cut its way into forest

New Forest National Park Authority planning director Steve Avery

New Forest National Park Authority planning director Steve Avery

First published in Headlines by

A GIANT electricity pipeline could cut through vast swathes of the New Forest if plans for an interconnector between France and Surrey are agreed.

Major Conservative donor Alexander Temerko, a former boss of the Russian oil giant Yukos, is developing an interconnector from the Flamenville nuclear power station in north-west France to Lovedean in Portsmouth, to be operated by energy supplier EDF energy.

But he says he has been told that the substation is working too close to capacity but the National Grid has suggested Bramley, near Guildford in Surrey. It would bring enough electricity to power 1.4 million households and if agreed, would start operating in 2019.

He said: “If we can’t get a connection around Portsmouth and we need to move to Bramley I will probably appeal to Parliament to make this a national project like HS2, because it’s impossible to receive planning permission for a lot of this land.

“If we can create generation capacity but cannot connect it to the grid that’s a very, very dangerous indication.

"I think people in the south need to seriously think about what will happen in the next five years because if they want to build new industry, shops and offices they are going to need electricity.”

Steve Avery, executive director of strategy and planning at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “It is only a proposal at this stage and there are no details and nothing formal on the table.

“Anything of this nature would be treated as a nationally-significant infrastructure project which would need to be decided by a government planning Inspector.

“There are proper procedures in place for dealing with these types of proposals in sensitive landscapes and if and when an application was submitted, we would make sure the interests of the New Forest are taken into account.”

Mr Temerko, who was born in Ukraine but became a British citizen in 2011, is heading the consortium of private investors behind the proposal. He has donated close to £500,000 to the Tory party personally and through his company, Offshore Group Newcastle.

National Grid was unable to respond because discussions about the interconnector are commercially sensitive until a formal application is made.

But a spokesman said: “Ultimately it’s the government, through the planning process, who decides whether our proposals achieve the right balance.

“We must present fully developed and well considered plans for them to base their decisions upon.”

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