Procurement process for North-South Interconnector should be stopped – Brendan Smith

Meath protest

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Communications Minister to halt all procurement related activities in relation to the proposed North-South Interconnector pending the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal here and a Court of Appeal decision in Northern Ireland.

Deputy Brendan Smith explained, “I am at a loss to understand how Minister Denis Naughten can allow the procurement works to continue while the matter is still before the courts.  The Supreme Court in Dublin and the Court of Appeal in Belfast have yet to deliver judgements on the cases before them, and I believe that until those decisions have been reached, no procurement related activities should be carried out.

“We are also still waiting for the Minister to publish the two independent reports, which examined the cost of undergrounding the project, and which were commissioned after two Fianna Fáil motions were passed in the Dáil and Seanad.

“It is clear that this Government is not willing to listen to the concerns of local communities in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath.  Fianna Fáil fully supports the undergrounding of the interconnector – it is the only safe and secure option.  Costs have fallen significantly over the past decade and there is no valid reason why Fine Gael is continuing to press forward with the pylon option”, concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

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For Written Answer on : 12/07/2018

Question Number(s): 599,612 Question Reference(s): 31858/18, 32248/18

Department: Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.

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QUESTION

[Ref No.: 31858/18] * To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if all procurement related activities in relation to the North-South Interconnector, and the Supreme Court appeal will be halted pending determination of court cases (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith. in light of the recent incinerator decision in Northern Ireland and the impending Judicial Review * For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 12th July, 2018.

Ref No: 32248/18

To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will request that all procurement related activities be halted pending determination in both cases in view of the recent incinerator decision in Northern Ireland and the impending judicial review of the North-South Interconnector and the Supreme Court appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith.

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 12th July, 2018.

(726 Received on 9th July, 2018.)

REPLY

I propose to take Questions Nos 599 and 612 together.

There are a number of legal issues ongoing in Ireland and Northern Ireland in relation to the North South Interconnector project. My Department was involved in a High Court appeal against the planning decision in 2017. The planning decision was upheld in the High Court and subsequently in the Court of Appeal. This is now being appealed to the Supreme Court.

The legal issues in Northern Ireland are ultimately a matter for the authorities there. The judgement made by the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland on 6 July relates to a different project, although it has been acknowledged that it could have wider implications for decision making in Northern Ireland. It is to be expected that the judgement will be studied over the coming weeks by authorities on both sides of the border for any implications for the North South Interconnector project.

I respect the process of the courts system in both Ireland and Northern Ireland and it is important to let these processes reach their appropriate conclusions.

The Interconnector, as proposed as an overhead line, has full planning permission in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The construction of the project, and all related procurement activities, is an operational matter for EirGrid and ESB Networks and one in which I have no function.

 

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