EirGrid switches on North-South interconnector plans

Power company EirGrid expects to have a new application for its controversial North-South 400kV interconnector ready before the end of the year, it said today as it launched a final re-evaluation report on the proposals.

The previous application was withdrawn in 2010 due to a technical error in a planning notice. Since then EirGrid has undertaken a comprehensive re-evaluation of the project. This involved a thorough re-examination of the previous application, including issues raised during the previous application process, and the taking on board of government policy following the new government’s study into undergrounding the lines.

EirGrid has completed its re-evaluation process and is publishing the ‘Final Re-evaluation Report’. The report finds that there remains an urgent strategic need for the project and recommends that the new interconnector will take the form of a single circuit 400kV alternating current (AC) overhead line. In reaching its conclusions, EirGrid considered feedback from stakeholders at all stages of the project to date, including the consultation period that followed a ‘Preliminary Re-evaluation Report’ in 2011. The report also takes into account the Government-appointed Meath Tyrone Independent Expert Commission which investigated the case for and cost of undergrounding the interconnector as well as the recent Government energy policy statement. A period of six weeks is now commencing to allow for feedback on the content and findings of the Final Re-evaluation Report in the preparation of a Preferred Project Solution Report which will be published for further consultation in due course.

Aimee Treacy, chairperson of the NEPPC campaign against the overhead lines, said: “It is clearly evident that EirGrid has learned nothing from the Oral hearing submissions in 2010 and is irresponsibly hell-bent on a collision course with the people of the North-East with this project.

“NEPPC calls upon the local TDs and councillors to step up and get involved in actually representing its constituents on this subject. The Government and Eirgrid are well aware of the findings of the Minister Rabbitte’s independent study on the project, which clearly indicated that an underground solution is technically feasible, economically affordable and attracts widespread community and land owner support. It also attracts the support of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). “The East-West interconnector was successfully developed by EirGrid using 400kv HVDC underground technology. Eirgrid just needs to take this template and repeat it for the Meath-Tyrone interconnector”, stated Ms Treacy.