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French villagers bid to stop Tory donor Aquind laying cable under Channel

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French villagers bid to stop Tory donor Aquind laying cable under Channel

French mayors and residents along the Normandy coast are campaigning to block a project for a cross-Channel electricity cable backed by a Ukrainian-born businessman who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative party.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Britain’s business secretary, is due to decide this week on whether to give the go-ahead to a £1.2bn project for the 148-mile cable between Normandy and Hampshire. The firm says the link, which will run through Portsmouth, could supply up to 5% of Britain’s electricity needs.

Opposition MPs have highlighted more than £1m in donations given to the Conservatives by the company, Aquind, and one of its directors, Alexander Temerko, a British industrialist born in Ukraine.

Labour says the project is “mired by cronyism”. That allegation is strongly denied by the firm, which says the scheme can play a vital role in helping to secure Britain’s energy supply.

The project faces strong opposition in Portsmouth from the council and campaigners, who say it will have a detrimental impact on the city and cause widespread disruption.

The proposal is to run the cable from the village of Lovedean in east Hampshire to Portsmouth, across the Channel to the French coast and to its end point at the small settlement of Barnabos in Normandy.

An alliance of the French mayors on or near the route has now been formed to oppose the project.

“The company is very aggressive,” said Jean-Marie Tabesse, mayor of Biville-la-Baignarde, one of the villages along the proposed route of the cable to the connecting station in Barnabos, where it will link to the French national grid. “They never take no for an answer. They never listen.”

The shoreline where the cable will make landfall is known as the alabaster coast because of its chalky white cliffs. It was a favourite place of the painter Claude Monet. The cable would reach the French coast at a car park and mini-golf course at Hautot-sur-Mer, a popular spot for tourists.

In June last year, Aquind submitted an “occupation rights” application to the mayor of Hautot-sur-Mer for construction and excavation works on the town’s seafront.

It was rejected by the mayor, Jean-Jacques Brument, who says he will never give permission. “Nothing obliges us to cede this plot to them,” Brument told a French newspaper. “They are as stubborn as fools.”

Jean Nicolas, a founder of Non à Aquind, a pressure group in the Dieppe area, said high-voltage transmission cables should not be routed through populated areas.

He said: “We don’t want a high-power electric cable near our villages, and we don’t want the disruption. It’s a crazy idea.”

Aquind made its application to the Planning Inspectorate for a development consent order in England in November 2019. The proposal was included on a list of projects of common interest by the EU in November 2017, which allows schemes to be fast-tracked. It was, however, removed from the list in October 2019.

The scheme was rejected by Pierre-André Durand, the prefect of Normandy, in January. Aquind is challenging the decision and considers that it will not stand in the way of getting the required planning consent.

Head and shoulders photograph of Temerko in a blue suit and tie
Alexander Temerko has donated more than £700,000 to the Conservatives. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images
Campaigners from Let’s Stop Aquind in Portsmouth say the power cables would involve construction through and under parks, allotments and wild open spaces. Viola Langley from the campaign group, said: “This would cause absolute chaos in Portsmouth and beyond. We don’t want it here.”

Aquind is the subsidiary of a Luxembourg-based company, Aquind Energy. Company filings say the company’s “persons of significant control” are the Russian-born oil businessman Viktor Fedotov and Temerko, a prominent Conservative supporter. The UK firm has donated more than £430,000 to the party. Temerko, a director of the company, has donated more than £700,000.

Lord Callanan, the minister for business, energy and corporate responsibility, is a former director of Aquind, standing down in June 2017. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says he will have no role in the decision over the project.

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said: “Aquind would cause devastating disruption to Portsmouth, the most densely populated city after London. Roads, parks and the precious natural environment would be ripped up. Residents will face noise, dust and huge traffic problems. This national infrastructure project has been mired by cronyism.”

Aquind says all its donations to the Conservatives were properly made and have been legally declared. It does not consider the removal of the project from the European list of projects of common interest is an obstacle to securing the relevant permissions.

The company said in a statement: “The French planning process is ongoing, and the project continues to engage with all relevant parties and authorities.

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Environment

NiMet forecasts thunderstorms, cloudiness from Tues to Thursday

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted thunderstorms and cloudiness from Tuesday to Thursday across the country.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Monday in Abuja, forecasts morning thunderstorms on Tuesday over parts of Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe and
Gombe states.

It envisaged thunderstorms over parts of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Bauchi, Katsina and Taraba states later in the day.

“Partly cloudy conditions are expected over the central regions during the morning hours with prospects of afternoon/evening thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa and Kwara states.

“Cloudy skies are expected over the
southern region during the morning hours with prospects of afternoon/evening rains over part of Ondo, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia, Ekiti, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Lagos states,” it said.

According to NiMet, early morning thunderstorms are expected over parts of Taraba, Adamawa and Kebbi
states on Wednesday.

It further anticipated thunderstorm over parts of Taraba, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Bauchi and Kaduna later on Wednesday. .

“Early morning thunderstorms are anticipated over
parts of Kwara and Kogi states while later in the day, thunderstorms are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau and Nasarawa states.

“Morning rains are anticipated over parts of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa states, while later in the day, rains are expected over most parts of the southern region,” it said.

NiMet predicted morning thunderstorms on Thursday over parts of Taraba state and thunderstorms over Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Kano states later in the day.

It envisaged thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau and Nasarawa states early in the morning.

The agency predicted thunderstorms over the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Kogi and Nasarawa states later in the day.

NiMet forecasts cloudy skies over the southern region during the morning hours with rains over the entire region later in the day.

“Strong winds may precede the rains in areas where thunderstorms are likely to occur, public should take adequate precaution.

“Airline operators are advised to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations.

(NAN)

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Environment

Africa loses $15bn annually to climate change — AfDB president

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says Africa loses between seven billion dollars and 15 billion dollars annually due to climate change.

The President of the bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina said this during an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which was monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

According to him, this is in spite contributing only three per cent of global emissions.

Adesina said that Africa was at the forefront of climate change’s impacts, which had devastating effects on agriculture and economies.

“In response, the AfDBank has inaugurated ambitious initiatives to build resilience and adapt to a changing climate.

“The AfDB has committed to doubling its climate finance to 25 billion dollars by 2030, focusing on the African Adaptation Acceleration Programme.

“This programme aims to deploy 25 billion dollars for climate adaptation, making it the largest globally.

“Additionally, the AfDB has created a climate action window with an initial investment of 429 million dollars, expected to grow to 13 billion dollars,’’ he said.

Adesina said this window supports vulnerable countries with crop insurance, land restoration, and climate information services.

He said Innovative financial mechanisms played a crucial role in supporting these climate adaptation initiatives.

Adesina said the bank had begun using partial credit guarantees, which enabled countries like Benin, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire to raise significant capital at lower interest rates.

“For example, Benin raised 400 million dollars from Chinese investors using a 195 million dollar partial credit guarantee.

“The AfDB also facilitated Egypt’s Panda Bond issuance, allowing the country to secure 500 million dollars from Chinese markets.

“These financial innovations reduce the cost of borrowing for African countries and encourage long-term investments in climate resilience.

“In spite of the challenges posed by climate change, Africa is leading the charge in innovative solutions and sustainable development,’’ he said.

The AfDB boss, therefore, said that the global financial architecture was not serving Africa’s interests very well, thus requiring change.

On Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), he said the bank was championing the course on the need for Africa to take those SDRs and use them better. (NAN)

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Environment

NiMET forecasts 3-day of sunshine, cloudiness

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has predicted sunshine and cloudiness from Monday to Wednesday across the country.

NiMet’s weather outlook, released on Sunday in Abuja, forecasts sunny skies on Monday, with patches of clouds over the northern region and morning thunderstorms over parts of Taraba, Adamawa and Borno states.

“Later in the afternoon/evening period, thunderstorms are expected over parts of Zamfara, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Taraba and Adamawa.

“Cloudy skies with sunshine intervals are anticipated over the North Central region with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory and Nasarawa states.

“Later in the day, thunderstorms are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue states,” the NiMet forecast stated.

According to the agency, a cloudy atmosphere is expected over the southern states, with prospects of morning rains over parts of Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

It anticipated thunderstorms over the entire region later in the day.

The agency envisaged patches of clouds on Tuesday with sunshine intervals over the northern part, with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Taraba states.

According to the forecast: “Later in the day, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Kaduna, Yobe, Taraba, Adamawa and Jigawa states.

“Patches of clouds with sunshine intervals are expected over the North Central region, with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Kwara and Niger states during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Kogi, Benue and Niger states.”

NiMet predicted a cloudy atmosphere over the southern states, with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states during the morning hours.

It expects rain over most parts of the region later in the day.

“On Wednesday, sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds are anticipated over the northern region, with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Borno, Taraba and Adamawa states during the afternoon/evening hours.

“Patches of clouds with sunshine intervals are expected over the North Central region, with prospects of thunderstorms expected over parts of Plateau, the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, Kwara and Nasarawa states during the afternoon/evening hours.

“Cloudy atmosphere is expected over the Southern states during the morning period. Later in the day, rains are expected over the entire region,” NiMet forecast.

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