NEPPC calls on EU Commission to investigate EirGrid and Government failures on North-South Interconnector project

November 24, 2014

Download EU Commission complaint by NEPPC 15 November 2014

The substantive issues that form the essence of the complaint relate to EirGrid’s failure to objectively examine the strategic need and scale of the project, the failure to fulfil its public consultation duties under EU regulation 347/2013, the failure to engage with the affected landowners’ concerns and recommendations, the refusal to carry out a proper cost-benefit analysis of the project, the waste of taxpayers’ monies and associated lack of accountability,  the numerous incorrect and misleading claims to the public and EirGrid’s provocative and intimidatory approach in its dealings with concerned communities in the designated route corridor. The complaint also highlights the current Government’s discrimination against the NSIP, by refusing to allow it to be included in independent review being held on all other main grid infrastructure projects. Finally, the complaint highlights the concerns of the public regarding the conflict of interest and apparent lack of impartiality that exists within An Bord Pleanála on this project.


The complaint by NEPPC, on behalf of affected communities and landowners in the North-East, contains detailed and specific facts that have occurred over the last 7 years. It includes the following issues:


  1. Failure by the Government and by EirGrid to prove the strategic need for the scale of the project and its investment cost to citizens.


  1. Failure by EirGrid to review and downsize the project seven years after the initial planning application, in light of significant documented long-term reductions in projected demand.


  1. Failure to objectively examine all technology alternatives, especially the rapidly evolving option of underground cable technology.


  1. Failure to carry out a professional cost-benefit analysis of the technology alternatives


  1. Pre-meditated refusal by EirGrid to carry out an objective public consultation exercise


  1. Refusal by EirGrid to engage with landowners concerns’ or recommendations


  1. Refusal by EirGrid to respect landowners requests and rights for the last 7 years, resulting in provocative and intimidating behaviour by EirGrid and/or its appointed agents


  1. Lack of accountability by EirGrid and by the Government for the waste of taxpayers’ monies in the project to date


  1. Consistent use of incorrect, biased and misleading claims and statements to the public over a 7 year period.


  1. Discrimination against the NSIP by the Government, in agreement with EirGrid, in specifically excluding it from an undergrounding analysis study


  1. Failure of Government to act on a 2007 report commissioned to take action on health related issues regarding extra high voltage lines and EMF/health concerns.


  1. Biased claims by Minister of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources that will be prejudicial to a proper oral hearing by ABP.


  1. Perceived failure by ABP to act in an impartial manner on the NSIP


  1. Conflict of interest in appointment of ABP as Competent Authority for PCI


  1. Failure by ABP to properly engage prescribed bodies in its handling of EirGrid submissions to ABP



Each of the above 15 points is substantive in its own regard and merits investigation. But the overriding substantive issue is that of the continued refusal and repeated failure to carry out a genuine public consultation on this project. The process has been nothing more than propaganda dressed up as consultation. The key decisions on the project, namely to erect overhead lines and pylon towers and to choose the shortest route, were all taken prior to any public engagement. The consultation process has been nothing more than information gathering exercises for EirGrid. All attempted contacts with landowners were purely to discuss movement of pylon towers rather any engagement on landowner issues and recommendations. This has been the procedure for the original application in 2007 and remains so for the planned re-submission. The latest desperation tactic to force the project forward has been the blatant attempt to buy people’s support locally, through ‘Community gain’ initiatives and promises to County Councils.


This is all the more unforgiveable given that EirGrid is going through the process of a resubmitted planning application, over a 7 year period. Eirgrid’s brazen approach of paying lip-service to the option of undergrounding and to ignore public concerns and recommendations strongly indicates that it carries the imprimatur of the full backing of Government to steam-roll the North-South interconnector through the planning stages, and in so doing break the will of local communities opposing the Grid Link and Grid West projects. The current EirGrid Project Manager Mr John Fitzgerald recently stated on the airwaves that: “..public acceptability is key. We have to have these projects accepted or they simply won’t be built..”. In a sworn affidavit to the High Court, dated 19th May 2008, EirGrid’s then Project Manager, Mr Tomás Mahony, stated: ‘It is recognised by the Respondent that such infrastructure cannot be put in place without the general acceptance of the people of the North East…’   NEPPC concurs with Mr Mahony’s assessment.

It is an alarming development for the public that the new EU regulation 347/2013, which espouses greater public consultation as a core component of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) projects is in fact being ignored by EirGrid and by An Bord Pleanála in a rush to force through the planning application yet again. It is incumbent of the EU Commission to investigate this aspect in particular and not to allow the whole issue of respect for the integrity of the public consultation process, a process that is a central pillar of our democracy, to be hijacked.


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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