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Aquind: Portsmouth MP hosts Shadow Energy Minister and local campaigners as deadline looms

Stephen Morgan MP hosted Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead MP on a visit to the city today to meet with ‘Stop Aquind’ campaigners, as next month’s deadline for the government to make a decision on the controversial project looms.

Before a discussion with key activists, Mr Whitehead toured one of the city’s ‘precious green areas’, which could be subject to horizontal drilling and wider disruption, if the interconnector cable is given the go ahead by government. The official deadline for the Conservative Government’s Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP to make a decision is January 21.

The Official Opposition has continued to ramp up pressure on the major infrastructure proposal, including calls to investigate whether donations to the Conservative party from Russian-linked individuals and Aquind co-owners like Alexander Temerko are connected to Putin’s Kremlin.

Temerko has handed more than £1.6m in donations to Conservative political figures over recent years. Its majority investor, the Russian-born oil tycoon Viktor Fedotov, secretly co-owned a company once accused of participating in a massive corruption scheme relating to a Russian pipeline.

The visit follows a further intervention by the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Ed Milliband MP last weekend writing to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over the involvement of Ministers in the Aquind application.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

As I’ve said since this project was first proposed, Aquind offers no clear benefits to our city, but will bring years of untold disruption and damage to our precious natural environment.

“I’m really pleased to have widespread support from frontbench colleagues on this and was delighted to welcome the Shadow Energy Minister to Portsmouth today, so he could hear first-hand the scale of the impact this disastrous project would have on our city’s open and green spaces.

“As we approach next month’s deadline, I’ll continue to work with frontbench colleagues to keep the pressure up and ensure Ministers make the right decision by finally stopping Aquind.”

Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal and Member of Parliament for Southampton Test, Alan Whitehead MP, added:

“It’s been really useful to meet with Stephen and local campaigners in Portsmouth today to better understand the scale of the impact Aquind will have locally, and the strength of the city’s united opposition to this project.

“Aquind and its owners’ activity has been highly suspicious – from handing donations to the Conservative party and a number of its MPs to the tune of £1.1 million – to exchanging secret letters with the minister holding the pen on the final decision.

“That’s why I’ve joined Stephen and others in calling for this vital decision to be taken out of the hands of Business Ministers, and anybody else who has met or been lobbied by this donor.”

Co-chair of the ‘Stop Aquind’ campaign, Paula Ann-Savage, also said:

“To allow any disruption of any kind to Portsmouth’s unique wildlife and established areas of biodiversity, will only prove that Kwasi Kwarteng MP doesn’t understand the importance of our ecosystems and why we should be protecting them.”