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January 21, 2022

UK Government rejects $1.6bn Aquind Interconnector project

The subsea, underground HVDC power transmission link would connect the UK and France.

The UK Government has rejected a planning application for the £1.2bn ($1.6bn) Aquind Interconnector, a bi-directional subsea electrical power transmission link proposed with France.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng turned down the application by investment firm Aquind in accordance with Section 104(3), according to government documents.

Aquind had proposed to build a subsea, underground high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electric power transmission link between the south coast of England and Normandy, France.

The company said that the project aimed to improve the electricity supply between the two countries by integrating their electric power grids.

With 2GW of capacity, the interconnector would have the capacity to transmit 16,000GWh of electricity a year, equivalent to 5% of the UK’s total energy consumption and 3% of that of French households.

Kwarteng did not agree with an earlier planning authority assessment of the project and was not certain that the project’s benefits would outweigh its impacts.

The government’s decision can only be challenged through a judicial review.

An Aquind spokesperson said: “We are naturally disappointed that our application has been refused, despite the existing government policy promoting the development of new interconnectors and the benefits the project would bring, which are acknowledged in the decision of the Secretary of State.

“We draw attention to the recommendation by the apolitical, independent examining authority that found strongly in favour of the Aquind Interconnector.”

“We disagree with the decision of the Secretary of State and the rationale behind it. We are considering the decision, the grounds for the refusal and a potential legal challenge.”

Earlier this month, the UK Government faced legal action from climate pressure groups over its decarbonisation plans, which were claimed not to sufficiently protect future life.

Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth have filed court papers with the aim of forcing the government to expedite its decarbonisation plans.

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