Sinn Féin fact finding mission to Brussels on North-South Interconnector yields significant findings and confirms undergrounding is both realistic and achievable

September 19, 2017

EirGrid’s attempts to scupper fruitful discussions and continued refusal to change position demands firm Government action

The Sinn Féin party, spearheaded by Matt Carthy and supported by Deputies Caoimhghín O’Caolain and Peadar Toibín and MLA’s Cathal Boylan and Jemma Dolan and a number of councillors from Cavan and Monaghan, organized a highly efficient and productive set of meetings in Brussels this week, including a meeting with the Belgian Transmission System Operator (Elia) and European Commission Energy Division. Campaign groups NEPPC, Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee and Safe Electricity for Armagh and Tyrone were all invited as part of the delegation.

In discussions with Elia 3 key points for successful development of electricity infrastructure became clear:

  1. Public acceptance is a pre-requisite before      any project can be considered viable. Without public acceptability there      can be no progress.
  2. Health concerns related to EMF emissions from      High voltage lines needs to be recognised and considered as an issue in      each project.
  3. Each project needs to be examined on its own      merits, but there is always an engineering solution possible.      Undergrounding is reliable and faults are a very rare occurrence.

All of these points are contrary to EirGrid’s intransigent position on the N-S Interconnector.

A meeting with DG Energy representatives and the Irish Permanent Representative facilitated the opportunity to deliver the following messages:

  • There is no acceptance for the N-S      Interconnector in its current format. Overhead is dead. Undergrounding is      the only way forward.
  • Undergrounding is feasible, affordable,      reliable and achievable.
  • The current Government needs to take      responsibility for directing EirGrid to put the lines underground.

It was very informative to note EirGrid’s behaviour in relation to this practical and progressive visit. The company attempted to influence the meeting with Elia by contacting them prior to our meeting. EirGrid also sent over 3 senior employees to our meeting with the European Commission. This is a company who in Ireland refuses to discuss the issues with us in public or attend any public meetings, yet can fly over to Brussels once official EU representatives are present.

It is high time for the Government elected representatives, particularly in the North-East where we now have 4 Ministers, to grasp the nettle and review EirGrid’s culture and practices. The approach taken by EirGrid to the public is completely at variance to what happens in other neighbouring EU countries. I note the latest saga where the company erected pylons without planning permission in the Laois -Kilkenny line and now has to take them down. What will it take for Minister Naughten to step in and take some action?

Ends –

Further information:

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Filed under: Press Releases 2017

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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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