Green light for North South Interconnector in the north
The green light has been given north of the border for the controversial North South Interconnector project, effectively clearing the way for it to proceed.
The Minister for Communications, Eamonn Ryan has welcomed the decision of his counterpart in Northern Ireland, Minister Mallon, to grant permission for the project north of the border.
"This decision mirrors the decision by An Bord Pleanála in Ireland in December 2016. This is the final milestone in the development of the North South Interconnector, which is a critical piece of energy infrastructure that will bring economic benefits to all people on the island of Ireland," said Minister Ryan.
"This final approval paves the way for the development of this major cross-border electricity interconnection project," he added.
The project comprises a second high-capacity electricity transmission line between Ireland and Northern Ireland. A 140km long 400kV overhead line will link counties Meath and Tyrone and, when completed, will increase the efficiency of the all-island Single Electricity Market, reduce costs to electricity consumers and improve the security of electricity supply across the island of Ireland.
"I will expect EirGrid to fully and openly engage with communities along the route of this project with a view to ensuring its appropriate delivery and that its benefits are understood by and shared with those living closest to the route," said Minister Ryan.
Kingscourt councillor Clifford Kelly (FF) is unhappy with any design that will see the pylons placed over the ground. Here he speaks to the Celt's Seamus Enright at this afternoon's meeting of Cavan County Council.
Meanwhile, Aontú councillor Sarah O'Reilly, cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, is appealing to the government parties to stand by the people affected.
The news is also certain to be met with dismay by the North East Pylon Pressure Committee (NEPPC), which has long since campaigned for the undergrounding of the line.
In late July, the group was disappointed when the then new Minister for Communication, Eamonn Ryan, said he did not intend to go back and review proposals calling for the overhead power lines to be place underground despite the "anger and intensive public concern".
Citing estimates from the Department on the cost of the project at €180 million incurred in the South, with the remaining €109 million incurred in Northern Ireland, the Minister continued by saying it was his belief that the Interconnector would deliver “real value for money.”
“I want to be as honest and up-front as I can be in saying I believe the project should proceed under the planning permission it has and in line with all the reviews that were done. My personal view, having looked at this in real depth and detail over the years, is that I do not believe it is technically possible or optimal to do it with an alternative design. As I said, we have to be very cognisant of health and local communities as we are building it but I believe the current proposal is the best way of doing that,” said Minister Ryan.
NEPPC has previously warned that land access was not part of the planning approval. It is also calling on Fianna Fáil to clarify its position.
"Commitments were made by Fianna Fáil over the last number of years and reiterated very recently that an underground cable approach would be the only way forward. The party stated that there would be a review of the project in the early months of the Government," said a spokesperson.
More to follow...