Transcript of Michael Reade Show on LMFM with David Martin of Eirgrid

January 21, 2018


Station:                       LMFM

Programme:                Michael Reade Show

Presenter:                    Michael Reade

Date:                           Wednesday 17th January 2018

Time:                          09:40

Duration:                    09:30


EirGrid Confident That It’s Full Steam Ahead for an Autumn Start to the North-South Interconnector / Interview David Martin of Eirgrid


Now as you’ve been hearing this week, EirGrid has welcomed the rulings of the High Court last week, in relation to the North-South Interconnector, which had been appealed, the Planning Permission had been appealed. That was rejected. And the applications to appeal those decisions has been dismissed by the High Court. We’re joined now by David Martin, who is Spokesperson with EirGrid, good morning to you David and thank you indeed or joining us. – Morning Mike. – What does this mean in terms of progressing the project?

Michael Reade:   Now as you’ve been hearing this week, EirGrid has welcomed the rulings of the High Court last week, in relation to the North-South Interconnector, which had been appealed, the Planning Permission had been appealed. That was rejected. And the applications to appeal those decisions has been dismissed by the High Court. We’re joined now by David Martin, who is Spokesperson with EirGrid, good morning to you David and thank you indeed or joining us.

David Martin (EirGrid):   Morning Mike.

Michael Reade:   What does this mean in terms of progressing the project?

David Martin (EirGrid):   Well em, it’s quite a significant moment. There were originally three Judicial Reviews taken against Planning Permission. Planning Permission that was granted about twelve months ago by An Bord Pleanála. So we had to wait for them to go through the Judicial process. One was withdrawn a few months back. And the High Court dismissed the latter two last week. So that really, you know, gives us a bit of impetus to move forward with this. There are a couple of other things, a couple of more steps that we need to get through. First of all we are awaiting Planning Permission or Planning Decision, I should say, in Northern Ireland. So that’s kind of imminent. We’re expecting that in the next couple of weeks. And we’re hopeful that it will be a positive decision for us. And then there are two outstanding Government Reviews that the Minister, Minister Naughten announced last year. So they’re looking at, one is looking at Undergrounding, and seeing if there is any developments in that whole area. And the second is the issue of compensation for Landowners directly affected. So once we get through Planning Permission in Northern Ireland and those two Reviews, which we believe will come out in the next weeks, we’ll be in a position then to start engaging with the directly affected Landowners, across Meath, Cavan and Monaghan, of which there are approximately four hundred, just over four hundred of them. And we’ll be looking to sit down with them, and explain to them where we’re going with this. And a view to getting access rights to their land, and then beginning construction, back end of the year, with completion by the end of 2020.

Michael Reade:   Okay. Am I right in thinking that there won’t be many surprises, if there are any surprises, in the Government Review of Undergrounding, because that’s a desktop study as such, looking at existing reviews?

David Martin (EirGrid):   I believe that is the case. There was a previous review, and I think a couple of the participants there, eminent European Experts in this area, are on the same review. Pat Rabbitte did a review in 2012, and it examined the whole area of Undergrounding. It concluded that it was three times more expensive to go Underground. We believe that that will be the similar conclusion to this review. We can’t, you know we’re not, I’m not trying to you know, to steal their thunder or anything like that. And we have to wait and see what comes out. But we have our experts working in this area. We work on Underground Systems ourselves. We have one coming into Meath, and we’re actually working on another project, end of this week. Tomorrow we’re starting on an Underground Project in North Kerry. So we have experts on this. So we believe that the cost issue is very much there still. It’s very much more expensive. And for this particular application, for the North-South Interconnector, it’s not an appropriate technology. It actually won’t do the job that we need it to do. And we’d be paying a premium of three or four times more. So that is what we would expect to see in the report. But we should wait and see. And we will review it, and take, very much take on board what its findings are.

Michael Reade:   Okay, and that’s the Expert EirGrid Opinion. There are other Expert Opinions that differ completely with what you’re saying. And I’m not going to argue the technology with you this morning, and intentionally so, because there is no agreement, there has been no agreement for over a decade, in terms of the differing views, and the minds are not going to meet, as such. But as far as EirGrid is concerned, this project is almost there. It’s almost over the line. You don’t expect any great hurdles along the way now. This Government Review, really will rubber stamp your proposal, and give guidance in terms of compensating Landowners. Is that it?

David Martin (EirGrid):   Very much so. We have spoken to, our Experts have been speaking to the International Experts putting together the Report. So we await that. And we would be confident and optimistic that there’s no surprises in there. So we’re looking forward to moving on that. The whole area of compensation for Landowners is a very important point. And we will be looking to sit down with the Irish Farmers Association and striking a deal, that will, em to compensate for those Landowners who are directly affected. And we acknowledge that it is an encumbrance on those Farmers, and that there is a, that they had to take a hit, as such. So we want to make sure that they are adequately compensated for that. So that’s very much an important piece of work that we will be working on over the coming months.

Michael Reade:   So the only obstruction, as such, that you may contemplate, is rejection of the Planning Application in Northern Ireland?

David Martin (EirGrid):   Well, and that is with the Planning Authorities up there are the moment. There was a, they had a public hearing in Armagh City last year, and they are, and so that was similar to the oral hearing that we had in Carrickmacross in the South. So that is, that has gone. We understand that a decision has actually been made, and a recommendation from that has been made. And it’s sitting with the Authorities there. So really we’re expecting that in the next week or two. Again, without prejudging it, we are reasonably optimistic that we’ll get a positive decision on that. And once that is in place, we will be in a position to move forward.

Michael Reade:   So there is no obstacle?

David Martin (EirGrid):   None that I’m aware of, anyway at this point in time.

Michael Reade:   Yeah, outside, because we hear Politicians telling us that this hasn’t been completed yet, but outside of a change of Government Policy, as far as EirGrid is concerned, you’re confident this project will go ahead?

David Martin (EirGrid):   We are confident. And look it’s been a long, your Listeners know this, it’s a long project. I’ve been working on it myself for the last eight or nine years. It even predates me, you know. So there’s a lot of history to it. I’m old enough and wise enough, not to say oh look, it’s plain sailing. Clearly there is a strong opposition to it. There’s are strong opposition groups to it as well. And they’re very good at articulating their position. So you know, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I think there’s a job of work to be done, particularly with the Landowners directly affected, to explain to them what we’re doing, where we’re going with it, and then getting to the construction stage. It’s an unusual situation in this country, we actually get it to, we bring the project to planning, and get it over the line from that point of view. Then we hand it over to ESB Networks, who then go build it. So that’s another thing that we need to do. We’re working very closely with ESB Networks now on the final design, and making sure they can hit the ground running, in terms of construction later this year.

Michael Reade:   All right eh, tell us about construction, the Pylons have been procured have they?

David Martin (EirGrid):   We’re in a procurement process. These things take a long time, longer than you might think.

Michael Reade:   Okay.

David Martin (EirGrid):   So the Engineers tell me that it will be probably Autumn by the time we get through that Procurement Process. So clearly we won’t be doing anything until we get Planning in Northern Ireland, and we come through the two Government Reviews, and there’s no hitches associated with those. And once we get through them, it will be back  end of this year, probably Autumn by the time we can get working on the ground.

Michael Reade:   Does that mean though that you won’t be signing cheques until you’ve . . . ?

David Martin (EirGrid):   No cheques until the Autumn.

Michael Reade:   Okay. And what about people who are concerned about those Pylons. Because it is the Pylons, the visual effect, the potential impact on health. I remember talking to Gerald Draper over a decade ago about the possible connection between High Powered Pylons and Child Leukaemia and so on. And there’s many many concerns. Property prices and so on. What do you say to people this morning about all of that?

David Martin (EirGrid):   Well there’s no doubt that there’s many concerns. And genuine concerns as well. And we at EirGrid definitely acknowledge that. I would point out that, you know, there are identical Pylons to those ones that we are going to put in place, already in County Meath. We have 400 KV lines, traversing the country coming from Clare to Meath and Clare to Galway. Hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of them, that have been there since the 1980s. And there’s been no adverse health effects. There has been no depreciation of property prices. And Farmers continue to farm. And that’s been going on for over thirty years now. Again, coming into Woodland near Batterstown Meath as well. So your Listeners will have direct experience of that. Notwithstanding that, there is an awful lot of information out there. If you go on the internet, you’ll get the Draper Report. And there was a link that he made in association with Childhood Leukaemia. I’ve got children, many of your Listeners have got children. There’s nothing more terrifying than the notion of your child suffering anything like that. However, we can assure your Listeners that it is safe. They are safe. And that they, there’s hundreds if not thousands of kilometres of them, all round Ireland. And they are proven to be safe.

Michael Reade:   Okay, and safe or otherwise, as far as you’re concerned, they’re going up?

David Martin (EirGrid):   Well that’s, we’re a Government Agency, that’s what we have to do. We have to, look the economy is growing, you know. We’ve got Data Centres coming in. We need to Upgrade the Electricity Network, to make sure that it’s there. To make sure that there’s jobs for people and for your Listeners over the coming years.

Michael Reade:   Okay David, we’ll leave it there for the moment. Thank you very much indeed for coming into us this morning.

David Martin (EirGrid):   Thanks very much Michael.

Michael Reade:   David Martin is Spokesperson for EirGrid.

\\ end


Filed under: News & Events

NEPP on Facebook

About NEPP

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

Register for Cycling Challenge


Sign the Petition

Press Releases


PayPal donations are for small amounts only. Please lodge larger amounts directly to our AIB Bank Acc.

Recent Posts

Archived Sections