Major Tory donor accuses ministers of making fuel poverty worse

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A major Conservative party donor accused ministers of worsening the fuel poverty crisis after blocking his cross-Channel power cable project.

Businessman Alexander Temerko, 55, said he will seek a judicial review after the Government refused the £1.2billion link between England and France in a move which he said created a ‘very bad precedent’.

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Mr Temerko, a British citizen who was born in the Soviet Union, has donated more than £1million to the Tories and is listed as a director of Aquind Limited.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last week decided to dismiss Aquind’s plans to provide a new electricity link between Portsmouth and Normandy in France.

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The proposal was controversial and Penny Mordaunt, the former defence secretary and current MP for Portsmouth North, claimed the project posed an energy security risk. She celebrated its refusal, tweeting ‘we did it, before Mr Temerko called her ‘an absolutely uncontrollable woman’.

Mr Temerko said energy investment is a ‘long-term investment business’ but added: ‘regulation in Europe is much more stable and more effective than in the UK’ as renewable energy products faced obstructions in the UK. 

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His comments come as households prepare to face at least a £3,000 spending squeeze in 2022 as soaring energy bills send inflation through the roof

Experts predict basic household spending will be £2,440 higher than at the start of the pandemic. But on top of this, families are facing the added burden of a £600 national insurance hike and other tax rises. 

Major Tory donor accuses ministers of making fuel poverty worse
© Provided by Daily Mail Alexander Temerko (pictured with the PM), a British citizen who was born in the Soviet Union, has donated more than £1million to the Tories and accused ministers of worsening the fuel poverty crisis after blocking his cross-Channel power cable project
Major Tory donor accuses ministers of making fuel poverty worse
© Provided by Daily Mail Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng decided to dismiss Aquind’s plans (pictured) to provide a new electricity link between Portsmouth and Normandy in France

Mr Temerko told the Telegraph: ‘Five million people in this country will not be able to afford electricity – for the first time – and they refuse this application and postpone two others.’

He accused the UK of failing to deliver on its message of being ‘the greenest’ and ‘very bold, and very brave’.

A letter published on the Planning Inspectorate website showed Mr Kwarteng decided to ‘refuse development consent’ for Aquind’s project having considered his obligations under the energy National Policy Statement.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, celebrated the decision, adding: ‘Thank you to everyone who campaigned against Aquind and this ridiculous proposal that would have damaged our city and would have damaged the country.

‘It shows that despite all the odds against us, if you stand up for what you believe in and you fight for it, you can actually change things.

‘Thank you so much. We’ve done a huge service not just to our city but to the country as well.’  

Major Tory donor accuses ministers of making fuel poverty worse
© Provided by Daily Mail Mordaunt opposed plans by Aquind, co-owned by Alexander Temerko, to construct the interconnector under the Channel between Normandy and Portsmouth (the city where she is an MP). In response, Mr Temerko said she was an ‘absolutely uncontrollable woman’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, a Labour frontbencher, said: ‘The Government have finally seen sense and stopped the disastrous Aquind project.

‘This is a victory for the people of Portsmouth over years of uncertainty and Tory cronyism.’

Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, now the International Trade Secretary, removed herself from the process in July over funding received by Northumberland Conservatives.

Mr Temerko, who has praised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the vaccination programme, had proposed the 2GW electricity link to balance out electricity supply from wind and solar, to help meet up to five percent of the UK’s demand.

But the project sparked opposition in Portsmouth, including from Ms Mordaunt and Mr Morgan, who warned of the environmental impact of substations and cables.

Major Tory donor accuses ministers of making fuel poverty worse
© Provided by Daily Mail Alexander Temerko is pictured with former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron
Major Tory donor accuses ministers of making fuel poverty worse
© Provided by Daily Mail Aquind’s website said the cabe ‘will make energy markets more efficient, improve security of supply and enable greater flexibility as power grids evolve’

Ms Mordaunt, who claimed the project would have made the UK more reliant on France for electricity, was ready to quit if the cable was approved, government sources said.

Rejecting the application, Mr Kwarteng, who had been recommended to approve it by the examining authority, said ‘adverse effects weigh against the development’.

He suggested Aquind consider connecting it to substation in Dorset, rather than the proposed route into Portsmouth. 

Describing the refusal as ‘absolutely wrong’, Mr Temerko added: ‘Between populism and real jobs we need to make a decision. That is a problem for government.

‘The real threat to national security is Penny Mordaunt – absolutely uncontrollable woman.’ 

Mr Temerko, who previously ran a firm producing weapons for Russia’s military, and Aquind have given more than £1 million to the Tories and he has regularly featured in photos at fundraisers with Prime Ministers and their Cabinets. 

In 2020, Mr Temerko previously told MPs that Russian-linked businessmen have ‘zero’ political influence.

His remarks came amid concerns about the influence of Russian-linked oligarchs in the highest echelons of British business and politics. 

A Government spokesman told the Telegraph: ‘The Secretary of State has refused development consent. We cannot comment further on any potential legal proceedings.’ 

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