Campaigners fear a deal made this week by Portsmouth City Council is reviving plans from a development firm linked to a prominent Conservative donor to build a controversial 2GW subsea power interconnector between Hampshire & northern France.

Aquind, the UK-registered development company controlled by Russian-linked investors Alexander Temerko & Viktor Fedetov, announced this week that it has agreed a works co-operation agreement with the city council, related to a programme strengthening its flood defences.

In January 2022, energy ministry D-BEIS rejected Aquind’s then £1.2 billion proposed interconnector, after the Planning Inspectorate ruled against its routing across wildlife habitats and on grounds related to the proposal’s datacomms capabilities.

Yesterday’s statement by the developer confirms that a decision on whether to grant development consent for Aquind’s interconnector is currently awaited from D-ESNZ’s new secretary of state Claire Coutinho.

Officials under her predecessor Grant Shapps enquired in March, Acquind’s statement claims, as to whether the firm had agreed with the city a co-operation plan regarding Phase 4 of plans to deliver strengthened coastal flood defences around the north of Portsea Island.

“Aquind Limited is pleased to confirm that we have now signed the works co-operation agreement with Portsmouth City Council in relation to delivery of NPICDS ( the city’s flood defence upgrade) and the Aquind Interconnector,” Richard Glasspool, a director of the developer said in the company’s statement.

“As always, Aquind is ready for constructive engagement with Portsmouth City Council and the other stakeholders across the project”, Glasspool added.

Since 2016 Aquind has been attempting to secure permission to build the privately-funded 2GW sub-sea interconnector, originally planned to link a landing station at Lovedean with Le Havre.

Aquind says its venture supports government ambitions, as laid out in December 2020’s energy white paper, to ramp up to 18GW Britain’s international power-sharing capacity by 2030.

Interconnectors such as Aquind’s will help integrate, it says, the growing share of renewable power generation on Britain’s grid and satisfy growing power demand stemming from the electrification of transport and other sectors of the economy.

Yesterday morning alone, for example, the company says, interconnectors were making up 4.7GW – equivalent to nearly five million homes’ usage – of Britain’s 31.2GW demand.

But questions remain about Aquind’s project and its backers. Leader of the Commons, Penny Mordaunt, one of Portsmouth’s two MPs opposing the venture, has led deputations to ministers against the interconnector, and spoke against it in April at a rally in the city.  Her website repeats her opposition to what she calls Aquind’s “damaging and unnecessary scheme”.

In September 2021, Byline Times reported that Alexander Temerko’s company had donated £365,000 to Conservative Party funds in recent years.  Temerko, a defence minister to Russia’s goverment in the 1990s, secured British citizenship in 2011.

In July 2019 journalist Catherine Belton, an authority on Russia due to her decade in the FT’s Moscow bureau, profiled the Aquind director Temerko for Reuters.

During conversations with her for her June 2020 book “Putin’s People”, Belton wrote that Temerko, at one time an arms supplier, had repeatedly contradicted to her in private his public declarations of opposition to Brexit and to Russia’s current regime. Instead, Belton wrote, Temerko had praised in Belton’s presence successive heads of Russia’s FSB, the country’s modern successors to the KGB.

Belton cited electoral records revealing that Temerko had gifted over £1 million to Conservative coffers in the eight first years of his British citizenship.

Achieving close friendship with later disgraced premier Johnson, pictured, Temerko served for five years as a vice-president of the Conservatives’ Cities of London & Westminster association, or branch.

Belton wrote in 2019 that Temerko had disclosed how, in the early days of Johnson’s 2016 to 2018 tenure as Foreign Secretary, the pair had shared a bottle of wine on the balcony of Johnson’s Parliamentary office, often “plotting” late into the evening.

Monetising a data communication link to be incorporated into the proposed design is part of Acquind’s proposal for its Anglo-French link.

Journalist Patrick Elliot reported in Byline Times in 2021 that Aquind’s controlling shareholder Victor Fedotov had been linked, according to a report in January that year by the International Bureau of Investigative Journalism, with the disappearance in 2007 of advance payments made between Russian entities for installation of telecommunications infrastructure including fibre optic cables, due to be included in one of Russia’s biggest construction projects, Transneft’s £6 billion oil pipeline connecting Eastern Siberia with the Pacific Ocean.

Transneft handed £44 million as an advance payment to one of two data installation companies controlled by Fedetov, Byline Times reported, citing a December 2010 report in ‘Kommersant’, a leading Russian financial newspaper.   According to the Russia source, the sum was transferred into a bank account controlled by the Cyprus-registered parent company of IP Net SPb, Fedetov’s data installation contractors.

Late in 2007, according to Byline Times, the oil pipeline operator Transneft was forced to cancel the contract with IP Net SPb,  which had not yet completed any of the work – and open legal proceedings to recover the missing funds. This proved unsuccessful since IP Net SPb was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Companies House today lists Monaco resident Victor Mikhailovich Fedetov, 76 years old, as a “person exercising significant control” over Aquind Ltd.   Britain’s register of corporations lists Temerko similarly in respect of Aquind Ltd.

No implication of criminal or fraudulent behaviour against Fedetov or Temerko or against any other directors of Aquind Ltd is made or is to be inferred in consequence of this present article in The Energyst.

We emailed Aquind Ltd’s media representative yesterday afternoon, seeking the company’s comments.  None was forthcoming.


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