Political representatives continue calls for interconnector report

Calls for an immediate government directive to be issued to Eirgrid to stop all works on the North-South interconnector were made in the Dáil and Cavan County Council this month. Deputy Brendan Smith (FF) and Cllr Clifford Kelly raised the matter in their respective fora calling for the cessation of work until there is a comprehensive up to date review.

Prior to discussing the matter at the March meeting of Cavan County Council Cllr Kelly asked the executive if Eirgrid, the ESB or their agents had any contact with the local authority since the last meeting. Replying to the councillor's query Director of Services, Planning, Community & Economic Development, Brendan Jennings, confirmed there was no contact since the last monthly meeting.

The Director of Services also said he was unaware is there were any wider consultations taking place on the project because of the pandemic.

In previous local authority meetings Cllr Kelly's standing motion calling for an independent report into the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the interconnector that will run 140km of overhead line between counties Meath and Tyrone, running through Cavan and Monaghan.

The Kingscourt councillor's called asks the government to prevent Eirgrid progress until an independent report is compiled. He said: “The government are still not listening to us. In Irish history the importance of land is well documented. The only way to progress with this project is to underground it.”

Cllr Kelly's calls were echoed in the Dáil when Fianna Fail Deputy Brendan Smith called on the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications to carry out a proper review of the proposed North South Interconnector.

Deputy Smith said Minister Ryan’s response to him in Dáil Éireann that the option of undergrounding the North South Interconnector was comprehensively assessed is “far from adequate”.

“The previous government did not carry out the comprehensive assessment in relation to the option of undergrounding the transmission cables as requested through motions in Dáil and Seanad Éireann in February 2017. The comprehensive assessment as requested by those motions should now be ordered by Minister Ryan,” Deputy Smith said.

The Fianna Fail representative spoke of the discontent of local landowners: “There has been a clear and consistent message from communities North and South that if this project is to proceed it needs to have buy in from communities and local landowners.”

“None of us are against the further development of an all island electricity market. If this project is to proceed the transmission lines should be put underground and I have emphasised that clearly in Dáil Éireann on numerous occasions,” he said.

Deputy Smith concluded by saying: “The undergrounding option must be properly examined and the concerns of local communities must not be dismissed.”