Campaigners '˜disappointed' in Viking Link decision

East Lindsey District councillors will not defend their reasons for refusing the Viking Link electricity network between Denmark and Lincolnshire at a public inquiry to be held on November 6.

Natural England, who originally objected to the plans, withdrew their objections.

In a short debate by the planning committee on Thursday, councillors voted for  one of two options, the first being to remove their objection to the effect on farming practices.

The second option — the one councillors chose — was to not contest any of the grounds for refusal and leave that to ‘any interested third parties’.

A statement from the chairman of the committee, who could not attend the meeting, said he believed the first justification was reasonable but the second was “more tenuous” and should be withdrawn.

Councillors were told the appeal would go ahead irrespective of the decision made.

Councillor Dennis, who did not take part in the original decision, warned the council to let the appeal ‘sort it out’, otherwise it could bring costs to the council.

He said he believed the authority was ‘ill-advised’ in going against officer recommendations originally.

Following the meeting, vice chairman Dick Edginton said Natural England’s withdrawal of its objection was”‘a blow because once they withdrew their support it weakened the opposition we could mount.”

He added: “If the appeal was held, the council would have to meet its own costs and those of Viking, which could be considerable.

“At the end of the day it’s taxpayers’ money which people might think would be better spent on services.”

Campaigners at the meeting said they were disappointed more debate did not take place, and said they believed the councillors could have chosen a third option — to defend both reasons.

Councillor Will Grover for the Hagworthingham ward said: “There was almost complete silence and a lack of complete debate from the committee members, so I’m very disappointed with the decision.

“I think it’s very clear there could have been a third option — to fight it in full.’

He believed there were other alternatives to the chosen route.

“I accept it avoids urban routes, but the fact it goes through the only Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the whole of the East Midlands, I just find completely unnecessary and I don’t think enough thought or scope has been given to examining alternative routes.

“I think it’s crazy the landing point is at Sutton on Sea and the point it joins the National Grid is at Bicker Fen and it’s taking an 80km route across land. It just beggars belief as to why this route is in place.”

The Viking Link is a proposed 473-mile long electricity interconnector between Bicker Fen near Boston and the substation Revsing in southern Jutland, Denmark.

Electricity would pass through cables under the North Sea, arriving on the Lincolnshire coast next to Sandilands Golf Club south of Sutton on Sea in East Lindsey.

Underground cables passing through the districts of East Lindsey, Boston, North Kesteven and South Holland would carry the electricity around 41 miles to a new converter station before it is connected to the existing National Grid substation.