A GIANT electricity substation will be built on a wildlife haven against the wishes of villagers, a Southampton MP has protested.
Caroline Nokes led a Commons debate to attack planning rules which leave local people powerless to stop National Grid acting, also shutting off a public right of way.
The Conservative MP urged ministers to look urgently at the way “certificates of lawful permitted development” can ride roughshod over local views.
And she said: “My constituents feel unconsulted and ignored, denied at every turn the chance to have their voice heard.”
Substation The row centres on a floodprone field in the village of Nursling, near the junction of the M27 and the M271.
One third of the field has been home to a small electricity substation for more than 40 years, but the remainder is popular with dog walkers and nature lovers. But all that is poised to change as a knock-on effect from the landmark decision to build a new nuclear powers station at Hinkley C, in Somerset.
Under National Grid’s plans, the sub-station will treble in size with “two enormous quad boosters to deal with the electricity provided by Hinkley Point C”, ministers were told.
Crucially, because it has been deemed an “associated development”, the expansion will not go through the normal planning process – which would allow villagers to object.
Instead, Ms Nokes said, local planners have been forced to issue a certificate of lawful permitted development, paving the way for the giant substation.
The Romsey and Southampton North MP said: “The scheme, if it goes ahead, has the potential to have a seriously negative impact upon the surrounding area, the natural habitat and the amenity of the local residents.
“The footprint will mean the public right of way will be lost, this haven for wildlife concreted over to allow a dramatic increase in size of the current sub-station.”
Ms Nokes said she was not arguing against the decision to build a new nuclear point, agreeing it was necessary to ‘keep the lights on’.
Issues But she added: “It is a classic Catch-22. There is nothing that can be done to stop it being built and there is no mechanism for my constituents to express their view.”
In response, local government minister Brandon Lewis agreed the debate “raised important issues around the planning process and community engagement”.
But he raised eyebrows by saying: “As I understand it, the Hinkley C connector project does not include proposals at the Nursling substation.”
Ms Nokes said she would be making further inquiries, given the contradiction.