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Stephen Morgan MP speaks up for residents at Hearing on AQUIND

This morning (15 December 2020) Stephen Morgan MP represented constituents at a hearing of the Examining Authority of the AQUIND development, sharing concerns raised by local people, city businesses and other objectors to the national infrastructure project. 

The transcript of what the Portsmouth South MP said objecting to proposals can be found below:

I am grateful to the Examining Authority for providing this opportunity for me to represent the views of my constituents on the AQUIND development.

Since 2018 I have been listening and representing concerns of local people on this development.

I have responded to dozens and dozens of emails, messages and letters, canvassed resident’s views through survey work, met the applicant on a number of occasions and attended a public consultation.

I have since submitted formal evidence to the Examining Authority and the applicant, have written separately to Ministers and submitted parliamentary questions on this important matter for my constituents.

Today I want to reiterate resident’s concerns, as well as those of the City Council, and formally place the objection of my constituents on record for the Examining Authority.

The construction of the proposed interconnector would take up to seven years and will cause untold damage and disruption to people, businesses and our environment in Portsmouth.

The proposed corridor where trenching is due to take place threatens to disrupt key elements of transport infrastructure, including highways that act as vital arteries to our city.

The City Council believes that there will be significant disruption to residents – from noise to at anti-social hours to dust and loss of natural light – in a wide-ranging area from Farlington Avenue in the north down to Fort Cumberland Road in my constituency.

This has certainly been reinforced by those constituents I have spoken with.

This congestion and disruption will inevitably have a detrimental impact on local traders, who have already endured a year of lost revenue and unprecedented uncertainty.

It will also cause long-term disruption to Portsmouth’s valued open spaces, with the unmitigated loss of recreational space at Milton Common and Farlington Playing fields.

A season or more of play could also be lost at Farlington, Baffins and the University of Portsmouth, with few alternatives in the meantime.

In addition to the air pollution created by construction, there is a risk to our City’s precious wildlife at Milton Common.

I have raised before the threat the development poses to local allotments, which have been a lifeline for those who tend them, particularly during the pandemic.

As it stands, the planning applicant has been unable to demonstrate sufficiently to the people of Portsmouth and elected representatives any positive benefit that this scheme would bring to the City.

Throughout this process, there have been concerns about the transparency of the applicant and its apparent inability to disclose information necessary to fully assess the impact of the proposed development.

I am aware that changes have been made to the proposed route, but I know many remain concerned that more could be done to engage with those impacted by the construction and avoid the worst of its effects.

Constituents continue to be troubled by reports of the applicant’s previous donations to a political party, and concerns about the project company’s financial and domiciliary arrangements.

Whatever the apparent merits of this project may be at a national level, to ignore the overwhelmingly negative impact it would have on Portsmouth’s people, businesses and environment would be a dereliction of duty.

Ultimately, it is extremely disappointing that the decision on this proposal has been taken away from local planning authorities like the City Council, which would be much better able to reflect the views of local residents.

On behalf of residents across Portsmouth South, I would therefore like to record the objection of my constituents to this application.

I would urge you to ensure that the views raised by residents are given a strong hearing so that objections are heard loud and clear.

Thank you.”

Check against delivery.