Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fail TD Brendan Smith has again called on the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications to carry out a proper review of the proposed North South Interconnector. He added that Minister Ryan’s response to him in Dáil Éireann recently that the option of under-grounding the North South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed is far from adequate.
“The previous government did not carry out the comprehensive assessment in relation to the option of under-grounding 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.
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.
Through further Parliamentary Questions I outlined clearly to Minister Ryan the need for his Department and Eirgrid to listen to local communities in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath who need to have their concerns addressed and their rights respected.
Modern technology is available to enable the transmission cables to be put underground which is happening in other parts of Europe. Departments and statutory agencies should follow proper procedures and the underground alternative to the present proposal has never been given an objective analysis by Eirgrid or the Department. The under-grounding option must be properly examined and the concerns of local communities must not be dismissed. This is the clear message that I have once again outlined to Minister Ryan and his Department”, stated Brendan Smith T.D.
Copy of reply by Minister Ryan to Parliamentary Question I tabled in Dáil Éireann following a motion passed by Monaghan County Council.
For Written Answer on : 03/03/2021
Question Number(s): 95 Question Reference(s): 12158/21
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
[Ref No.: 12158/21]
* To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will have issues raised by a local authority given urgent consideration in view of the widespread concerns in local communities in relation to the proposed north-south interconnector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.
At the February Council meeting the following resolutions were passed by the Council and I was directed to forward same to you for attention. 1. That this Council notes with deep concern the excessive spending of taxpayers money by Eirgrid on advertising as exposed at the Public Accounts Committee and that we write to Minister Eamonn Ryan, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Eirgrid & the Oireachtas members for this constituency requesting a response on this issue. 2. That this Council notes with deep concern no change in policy from Minister Ryan – Eirgrid – or Government in relation to the undergrounding of the North South interconnector. That this Council further notes that Government – Minister Ryan – & Eirgrid are in breach of Government policy – Re Community acceptance (Government policy 2012) – in relation to infrastructure such as electricity infrastructure etc. That we write to Minister Ryan – An Taoiseach Michael Martin & the Oireachtas members for this constituency requesting a response to this motion I would be grateful if you would consider the resolutions outlined above and let me have a reply for the Council members in due course.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 3rd March, 2021.
(1667 Received on 25th February, 2021.)
EirGrid as a commercial state company is accountable to the independent energy regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, under the Price Review process for all expenditure, including advertising, that it incurs in the discharge of its responsibilities.
The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island single electricity market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also help Ireland to move towards 70% renewable electricity, a commitment made in the Programme for Government. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.
The 2012 Government Policy Statement on the Strategic Importance of Transmission and Other Energy Infrastructure states: ‘The Government does not seek to direct EirGrid and ESB Networks or other energy infrastructure developers to particular sites or routes or technologies’.
The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, and fully in line with the resolution of Dáil Éireann of 16 February 2017, my Department commissioned an independent report incorporating international industry expertise to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the north-south interconnector. The report from the International Expert Commission was published in October 2018 and it found that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this piece of critical electricity infrastructure. I do not intend ordering a further such review.
The Government takes the commitment to community engagement seriously. EirGrid and ESB Networks seek to work in close collaboration with landowners and stakeholders in the delivery of electricity infrastructure. Both companies are engaging with those living closest to the route of the interconnector. In that regard I note that EirGrid has already set in place a variety of engagements locally, including the appointment of community liaison officers and a mobile information unit active in the area. I expect such engagements to intensify in the coming weeks and months, subject of course to national public health guidelines on Covid-19.