Smith disappointed by North-South interconnector plans

– Planning application only proposes overhead lines –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says its extremely disappointing that EirGrid is planning to proceed with the North-South interconnector without placing any of the power lines underground.  EirGrid published it planning application earlier this week, but there are no plans to underground any part of the interconnector.

Deputy Smith commented, “The planning application lodged by EirGrid proposes a 400kV AC overhead line, which will run through Cavan, Monaghan and Meath.  Residents are naturally angry that this option is the only one which has been submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

“Less than two months ago EirGrid’s Chief Executive Fintan Slye told the Oireachtas Communications Committee that the undergrounding of the North-South interconnector was technically feasible but the plan submitted to An Bord Pleanála focuses solely on overhead lines.

“I am calling on Minister Alex White to immediately clarify the Government’s position on the North-South Interconnector and to direct EirGrid to bring forward options to underground the project.  There also needs to be an immediate review of the regulations governing the construction of overhead power lines.

“Fianna Fáil has made our position very clear with EirGrid. We do not believe there has been any meaningful discussions with local communities.There is very serious concern and anger among communities in the border counties arising from the Government’s decision to press ahead with the construction of overhead power lines for the North-South interconnector, despite carrying out a review of the other 2 Grid Link projects in the West and South East of the country.

“The people of Cavan and Monaghan will not allow themselves be treated as second-class citizens and will continue to demand an examination of the current proposals. It is a matter of fact that in 2009 it was estimated that undergrounding the cables would cost more than 20 times the cost involved in keeping these transmission lines above ground. This cost argument has been totally diminished and it is now widely accepted that the costs in laying the cables underground is now substantially reduced to under 2 times the cost of over-grounding.

“The Government needs to look at this issue again. It is not acceptable for the Government to ignore facts as they change on the ground and plough on regardless.”