Independent Expert Panel bows to Government’s wilful discrimination against the N-S interconnector project

July 1, 2014

Media Release from North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC)

1st July 2014

McGuinness panel handcuffed by Governments discrimination against N-S interconnector

Independent Expert Panel bows to Government’s wilful discrimination against the N-S interconnector project

Sell-out to Minister Rabbitte & EirGrid by local TD’s will not be forgotten by people of the North-East

The North-South interconnector project is the longest running major electricity grid infrastructure project in the country. It was first publicised in 2007, but was withdrawn from planning by EirGrid in 2010, due to numerous inadequacies in the submission.
For the last seven years NEPPC has been consistently calling for a route specific underground study for the North-South interconnector to be performed. It has called on the 7 Government TD’s of the 11 in total in the North-East to demand that such a study be performed by an independent body.

Yet, what has happened is a wilful refusal by Government to independently assess an underground option for this interconnector, ably supported by a feeble and subservient group of Coalition TD’s in the North-East.

The facts speak for themselves:
• On 28th January Min. Rabbitte announced the establishment of an Independent expert Panel (IEP) to oversee the analysis of specific undergrounding options for Grid West and Grid Link projects. But the N-S project was purposely excluded. Not a word of protest from our Government TD’s

• On 7th May the IEP stated that “whilst the N-S project is not covered by the Government’s decision” the IEP would at least provide an opinion on ”the compatibilities on the methodologies to be employed on GW and GL, with what has already been done for the N-S interconnector” . This is basically a smokescreen to cover the fact that the N-S interconnector is being deprived of a proper analysis. Again, not a whimper from our Government TD’s.
• On 1st July the IEP made the sweeping generalisation that “what has already been done on the N-S project is compatible with the methodologies now being employed on the GW and GL projects”

NEPPC makes the following points in relation to this statement:
1. Stating that ‘methodologies are compatible’ across projects is neither a surprising nor a very relevant point. The real question is whether the N-S project is being afforded the same analysis as being afforded to the GW and GL projects. The patently obvious answer is ‘no’:

a. GW & GL projects are identifying a specific route along public roads. This has never been done for the N-S project

b. GW will be examined for 12 months. GL will be examined for 18 months. N-S has been given a superficial examination over a 2 month period, which is totally inadequate.
c. The Panel’s conclusion is based on an assessment by EirGrid of its own work. What else was EirGrid going to say? There has been zero independent project analysis input. EirGrid has been appointed as the judge and the jury of its own shoddy work.

• The admission by EirGrid that it has not adequately examined an underground cable option for Grid-West and Grid-Link is equally valid for the North-South interconnector. Why then is EirGrid forging ahead with an overhead lines and pylons planning application for the North-South interconnector? A decision on the feasibility, affordability and acceptability of underground cable technology is a strategic decision. It is also a national decision. The exclusion of the North-South interconnector is a cynical exercise in regionalising the issue and in alienating the communities in the North-East.
• NEPPC wishes to record its deep dissatisfaction with the Government elected representatives in the North-East. It is clear that the case for the North-South interconnector has not been adequately represented and that our Government elected representatives have been spineless in challenging Minister Rabbitte’s decision to ignore the genuine concerns of the people of the North-East. Why have our Government elected representatives stood idly by and done nothing to reverse the decision on the exclusion of the North-South interconnector project?
“What has happened here is farcical, stated Aimée Treacy, chairperson of NEPPC. All that is wrong with Irish politics is wrapped up in this sorry process. Min Rabbitte, in deference to EirGrid, has decided that the N-S interconnector needs to go ahead, that it cannot be undergrounded, and that he will ride roughshod over the people of the North-East. Hence his stubborn refusal to even meet with NEPPC over the last 3 years and his refusal to give the N-S project a fair hearing by the IEP. But Min Rabbitte will move on. EirGrid, also, will continue to unsuccessfully try and browbeat the public into surrender on this issue. What will be left exposed, however, is the track record of truly abysmal representation of the communities of the North-East by our Coalition representatives”.
North East Pylon Pressure Campaign Limited
087- 680 36 66

Filed under: Press Releases 2014

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NEPP is the overall representative group for the people of Ireland's North East who advocate that high power electric cables should go underground.

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