Thank you to the hundreds of local residents that have been in touch to share their views on the proposed Southampton to London Pipeline Project.
Throughout the application process my office, Rushmoor Borough Council, and residents’ group ‘Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park’ have sought to engage constructively with Esso to ensure that the Project can be delivered in a satisfactory way for everyone involved – and, particularly, for local residents like yourself and our local community.
I met with Esso’s representatives and, although they promised much in the way of mitigation, this had not translated into meaningful commitments by the end of the Planning Inspectorate’s Examination.
That’s why, earlier this week, I wrote a joint letter with Rushmoor Borough Council Leader, Cllr. David Clifford to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP – who will soon review the Inspectorate’s final Recommendation Report, and make a decision on the application – to ask that he protects Queen Elizabeth Park from any unnecessary impacts of the pipeline.
As you can see from the attached letter, we have requested that the Secretary of State impose a condition to ensure Rushmoor has the final say with regard to the installation technique used. The Council’s preliminary assessments suggest a much less invasive ‘drilling’ technique, such as Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), would indeed be feasible and would cause considerably less damage to the many veterans and notable tress - so valued by our community - than the ‘trenching’ technique proposed by Esso.
The value of Queen Elizabeth Park to our local community cannot be overstated, particularly given the recent COVID-19 restrictions. As so many of you expressed in your letters and emails, the Park is a quiet haven for local residents – particularly children - with an array of wildlife and woodland, and has been a source of exploration, education, and enjoyment for generation of local families.
I very much hope that the Secretary of State will share our concerns, and take action to ensure the Park is protected. I look forward to providing you with a further update in early Autumn when we expect to receive a decision from the Government.
In the meantime, if you are interested in becoming a member of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park, you can join them online on their website at www.queenelizabethpark.net, or get in touch with the Chair, Kathryn, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, again, to all those that have taking the time to write to me and share their views.
With very best wishes,
Leo Docherty MP
Member of Parliament
for Aldershot, Farnborough, Blackwater and Hawley