Deplorable decision by An Bord Pleanála an affront to the democratic process and a major setback for the North-South Interconnector Project

December 21, 2016

Biased decision will only deepen public cynicism, opposition and resolve

North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) is neither surprised nor concerned with today’s decision by An Bord Pleanála (ABP) to approve the North-South Interconnector (NSI) overhead lines and pylons planning application*. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. It changes nothing. The application has yet to go through the approval process in Northern Ireland. There will also be challenges and Judicial reviews likely in both the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.
  2. The application as it stands will never be built. For objectionable strategic infrastructure of this scale to be established it must at the very least be accepted by the public as having followed due process and impartial analysis without interference. The public have lost all faith in the process and in the analysis.
  3. The planning application and process is viewed by the public as unnecessary, unjust, undemocratic and therefore unacceptable:

a)   Unnecessary: A viable, realistic and publicly acceptable option to underground the project along public roads exists. To this date this option has never been properly examined by EirGrid nor requested to be examined by ABP or by the Government. This option will eliminate all public concerns related to health, landscape and farming, rendering the current overhead lines application unnecessary. A very similar project between Belgium and Germany is being undergrounded along public roads (Appendix 1, ALLEGRO Project, page 3).

b)   Unjust: Eirgrid has refused to take into account any public concerns because it states that it has no obligation to do so. Eirgrid has repeatedly used irrelevant reports and misleading statements to ensure support from successive Governments over the last 10 years. There has been inappropriate influence and interference exerted on the planning process by numerous biased statements made by regulators, Government appointed experts and a Government Minister during the course of the planning process.

c)   Undemocratic: The planning process and recent regulations specific to this application, especially EU regulation 347/2013, demands early public consultation and participation into the decision making process. It is a fact that EirGrid decided on an Overhead Line option, tendered it out and awarded a contract for this option BEFORE any public consultation ever took place. This rendered any subsequent so-called public consultation both meaningless and misleading.

It is beyond rational comprehension how the planning application could have been approved by ABP. EirGrid made a significant number of material changes during the Oral Hearing process, without challenge from ABP. The application was woefully inadequate, containing insufficient information to allow an acceptable Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be made (Appendix 2 – Oral Hearing Closing Statements, NEPPC). For instance EirGrid had not accessed 75% of the lands proposed for the pylon towers and had only communication with 5% of the landowners. The decision by ABP to ignore these deficiencies and approve the application heralds the end of its status in the public eye as an objective, independent decision making body.

NEPPC is calling on all elected representatives to seek a solution to the impending impasse and conflict. EirGrid has been grossly negligent in its refusal to even consider undergrounding. Time still exists for EirGrid to be directed by the Minister of Communications, Climate Change and the Environment to do the right thing and underground the project. Claims of urgency and criticality for the North-South Interconnector are being made by EirGrid, SONI and by the regulators North and South of the border. Such claims carry a responsibility for facing reality and finding acceptable solutions, instead of relying on influence and interference to force this through.

“The landowners and local communities are disgusted with how they have been treated for the last 10 years. If ABP think that there will be no repercussions in terms of integrity of the planning process from this decision then they are gravely mistaken. The public will not accept the totally unnecessary proposal from EirGrid, who have zero respect and trust at community level. If political action is not taken this project will make the Shell to sea debacle look like a walk in the park. The will of the people will prevail”

-       Ends –

Further information:

087 680 36 66; pjboreilly@eircom.netwww.nepp.ie

*Background

EirGrid submitted a planning application in December 2009 to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) for the North-South Interconnector Project (NSIP) which requested approval for the erection of a 400,000 volt Overhead Transmission line and over 300 associated pylon towers across counties Meath, Cavan and Monaghan. EirGrid abruptly withdrew this application in June 2010, seven weeks into the ABP Oral hearing. EirGrid resubmitted the planning application in June 2015. ABP held an 11 week Oral Hearing between March and May of this year during which EirGrid proposed a substantial number of changes to the planning application. ABP has, nevertheless, approved the application.

North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) group is the overall representative group for some 45,000 people of the North East of Ireland who advocate the use of modern technology in electricity transmission infrastructure that would eliminate health and environmental risks and concerns. The group was formed in November 2007, in response to the massive public outcry emanating from the EirGrid announcement of its plans for a NSIP from Meath to Tyrone. NEPPC is recommending that the only acceptable solution is that the North-South Interconnector Project be established using HVDC underground cabling along public roads.

Further information:

087 680 36 66; pjboreilly@eircom.net;

Appendices

Appendix-1- Undergrounding into meshed grids-allegro-pci

Appendix 2: Oral hearing Clossin Submissions NEPPC May 2016

Deplorable ABP Decision (Word Doc)

 

 

Filed under: Press Releases 2016


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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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