Aquind

I am an earth and life scientist. A geologist as well as a marine and environmental scientist. I am based in Portsmouth.

Last week, I walked along in the local Green Party’s Clean Air Day event. I saw people with signs and t-shirts that said “Stop Aquind”. It was mystifying. What was that about? Eve handed me two leaflets about it.

I dove into it. Okay, that’s about money. Aquind is about money.

I was amazed to see that even local Conservative Party MP Penny Mordaunt is against it, but she of course, is saying that she does not want France to be able to shut off the power whenever it is ticked off with the UK.

Labour MP Stephen Morgan has spoken out against it and so has Lib Dem Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Wow! For the first time in what must be at least a century, the three main parties in Portsmouth agree on something. Are they cooperating on the issue, however? I very much doubt it. (Not done, is it? Cooperation. Because it means you can’t claim a potential victory and not blame a potential defeat on the other parties.)

I found that Portsmouth City Council has earmarked £250,000 to fight Aquind. Wow.

So as a result, there has been a lot of… stuff. What kind of stuff? No idea. I found the following two local links. Do they give any information? No. They just tell you that you will be kept up to date as to what is happening. Really. Really?

There is a Facebook group that is probably doing that, keeping people informed (I haven’t looked), but it is certainly not what Portsmouth City Council is doing. Perhaps that’s for strategic reasons, granted. In real life, you do not deal with Aquind much, after all, you’re more likely to deal with its law firm or with the planning inspectorate.

https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/2021/03/12/aquind-interconnector-examination-closes/

https://interconnectorportsmouth.co.uk/

I had NOT heard of this at all. None of it.

But as it apparently is a hot issue in Portsmouth and has been for quite a while, I guess I do not have to add any information about what Aquind is and who is behind it.

What I wondered about is how this project may affect the aquifer(s) under Portsmouth. I used to be a member of Portsmouth City Council’s Environmental Forum, just before it folded. Lynne Stagg and Darren Sanders were on it too.

A lot of useless waffling went on in that forum but not all of its activities were useless, not at all. At some point, we had a presentation by, I think, a guy from the Environment Agency. I think the topic of his talk was geothermal energy?

(There also was an occasion on which Farlington, flooding risks and Portsmouth Water including licences were discussed but I don’t think it was that time when the following happened.)

The guy who gave that talk made a remark about how lucky Portsmouth was, that it runs out of water less quickly in times of shortages, such as summer, because of the local geology.

(But there is no local geothermal energy potential.)

Now I of course, according to many of the locals, am just a delusional old cow who’s been making up her professional background for years. And Priti Patel has confirmed that by saying that people like me are cheap low-skilled labour so I must indeed be lying about my background. I can’t possibly for starters be a geologist.

And Portsmouth City Council has already done a lot of work on this.

But frankly, I have been underwhelmed with Portsmouth City Council for a while.

I had a meeting with some guy – who was it, the head of the planning committee? – some years ago that didn’t impress either. (That feeling was mutual, I am sure, as our objectives were diametrically opposed.)

(I also think that many of these folks do what the Dutch did when they missed out on the AstraZeneca deal. Civil servants are not great original thinkers, as a rule, and rarely take initiative.)

So I’ve tried to find out what was so unique about Portsmouth’s geology. I suspect it’s the combination of the limestones cropping out to the north (the …

(While I am typing this, Jerky McJerkface – i.e. the hacker –
is freezing my computer again; have to reboot,
by throwing power off the computer.)

… Portsdown Hill anticline; an anticline is an UPward fold, whereas a syncline is a downward fold, a valley, so to speak) and which only crops out to the north of Portsmouth (a blob on the geological map) and the depth of the limestone layer under Portsmouth (as opposed to its depth north of the anticline). But I am only guessing. You’d probably have to talk with the geologists at Portsmouth Water to find out the specifics.

(What I also wonder about is how rising seawater levels will affect this, though.)

So I tried to find what Portsmouth Water had said about Aquind.

I found two e-mails, online at the Planning Inspectorate, from Simon Deacon. You know what…? He may actually have been the guy who gave that talk at the Portsmouth Environmental Forum back in 2009. He was at the Environment Agency at the time. (Jane Di Dino might know.)

I wonder if the combination of “Protective Provisions risks” (regarding the safety and security of the public water supply in Source Protection Zone 1) and whatever is so unique about Portsmouth’s geology that it means its freshwater supply is safer here than in the surroundings may give Portsmouth the out it needs. Perhaps you could argue that these protective provisions risks mean that it is not sufficiently guaranteed that Portsmouth’s freshwater supply will remain unaffected by the Aquind project.

Because freshwater is a precious commodity too, after all. And everyone worth his or her salt knows that.

I also suspect that Aquind may just say that it will use horizontal drilling techniques in response to many, most or all of the objections to do with disruptions in Portsmouth. (But I am only guessing. I haven’t even gone through any of the PDFs yet that I found last week other than to spot that the Planning Inspectorate was unable to find much about the optic cables and data lines for some of the other interconnectors either and if you look at what is happening with those now, you may be able to draw some conclusions with regard to their role within the Aquind project.)

For those who just like me until three days ago have no idea what Aquind is, see the links below.

In Normandy, France, where the interconnector is supposed to be coming from, the project is not liked much either, is my impression.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-56030674
(about Lord Wharton’s involvement)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-50345575
(about the Aquind interconnector project)

Just now, I found this:

Okay. That answers why I too had wondered what on earth the South Downs National Park was supposed to have to do with it. (I assumed that I simply had my regional geography wrong.) Misinformation is NOT THE WAY TO GO, people! That goes for both sides.

(Source info below: Greenpeace.)

Ukrainian energy magnate and prominent Conservative party donor Alexander Termerko, who was previously a strong supporter of Boris Johnson – together with his firm OGN, which builds oil and gas rigs – gave £690,000 to the Tories in the last parliament.

Termeko is joined on the board of Aquind by Conservative peer and leave campaigner Lord Callanan, who has previously spoken out against the “madness” of the UK climate change act.”

Please do not make the mistake of thinking that anything other than gas and oil is better. Some alternative energy forms effectively constitute a huge step back. “Green” and “sustainable” have become marketing buzzwords that often hold little real substance. Anything that makes the difference in energy generation has to be local – without much transport. (Think, for example, very SMALL-scale generation of wind-based power?) And we need better energy storage solutions. I am not so sure that interconnectors are the answer.

(At which point Jerky McJerkface kicks in again.)

Also, what we keep doing is finding ways to require MORE energy, aren’t we? That’s because this makes some people a lot of money, isn’t it?

(I stopped using my fridge a few years ago and was amazed to discover I don’t actually need it. I now only run it for a few days very occasionally. We’ve all been taught that we need a fridge. We blindly assume that that’s true. Is it? I used to need mine to refrigerate my eye drops, but since Pfizer’s latest innovation, that’s no longer required. I wish they’d also upgrade the design of the dropper bottles.)

(I also use a twin tub washing machine these days and I’ve discovered that it allows me to recycle almost all the water that I use in it, sometimes even more than once. That’s not doable for everyone; I understand that.)

(The next thing I want to do is recycle my shower water.)

Make no mistake. I am mostly just guessing, with regard to Aquind, making educated but off-the-cuff guesses. (Also, I am not a hydrologist, but that does not necessarily matter much within this context.)