Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Refuses Electricity Interconnector Infrastructure DCO

On the 20th January 2022, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy REFUSED consent for a development consent order ("DCO"), under the Planning Act 2008, for the provision of electricity interconnector nationally significant infrastructure, in the field of energy, by a company called "Aquind Limited". Aquind had applied to install an electricity cable, and alongside private commercial telecommunications cables, under the English Channel and through Portsmouth City before terminating these at a principal Converter Station next to a National Grid Substation at Lovedean, Hampshire where these would connect to National Grid's electricity infrastructure. The electricity cables would transmit electricity energy from France to England. Aquind applied to situate the key Converter Station on a private farmland owned by the Carpenter brothers. Aquind does not own the land for its project and so applied for compulsory purchase powers both along the cable length and for the greater part of that farm. But, Aquind had not fully explored and ruled out, as required by case law, alternative locations for its proposed infrastructure before seeking acquisition powers.

Whilst the Examining Authority recommended in its report to the Secretary of State that consent be granted, the Act requires him to evaluate the DCO and he did, for almost a year through requests for further information and written representations including from Interested Parties. Key legal and evaluative considerations for the Secretary of State included the scope of the development able to be consented under the Planning Act 2008 in the field of energy and his Section 35 direction, and alternatives, in the context of a DCO drawn to include compulsory purchase powers. During his consideration, he evaluated that all alternative locations for the DCO infrastructure remained incompletely explored by Aquind and that proved fatal for Aquind. CPO was not here being sought as a remedy of last resort.

Infrastructure DCO Barrister Christiaan Zwart acted for the Carpenters as the key private landowner.

In securing refusal for his private landowning clients, and in persuading the Secretary of State to refuse the DCO, Christiaan led a team from Blake Morgan LLP headed by Anita Kasseean (Partner, Head of Environment and Planning), with David Kianizadeh (Solicitor), and infrastructure experts including compulsory purchase and telecommunications expert Jonathan Stott (Managing Director), of Gateley Hamer, and agricultural valuation expert Henry Brice of Judds.

More details about the Decision of the Secretary of State can be found here.