Government and EirGrid crafted study fails the taxpayer yet again

October 7, 2018

The study proves that the N-S interconnector in its current form is dead and should be buried

A Fianna Fáil motion in February 2017, subsequently supported by a majority vote of other opposition parties and independents in both the Dáil and Seanad, called on the Government to carry out a realistic and objective analysis of how to deliver the North-South Interconnector in a manner that was acceptable to the public and that minimised the impact on the local environment.

The Government’s first approach was to try and prevent such a study happening. It then altered the terms of reference to deliberately prevent an objective analysis. For this reason NEPPC declared in 2017 that it would not have any involvement in what was an orchestrated and sterile process that was refusing to face the reality of the issues around the project.

The study, which has now been released over 9 months after its due date achieves one result and one result only, namely that it serves to further antagonise, infuriate and alienate the very public it depends on to progress the project. If the local communities ever needed any final confirmation that the Overhead Line option is fully dead in the water then this study provides that confirmation. It also shows, beyond any doubt, that the current Government is completely out of touch with reality and our Government Ministers have deserted the people in the North-East on this issue.

The following are some of the many issues and deficiencies of the Government Study:

  • The Government struck out of the proposed terms of reference all issues related to impacts on the environment, landscape, devaluation, health risks, farming, heritage, public consultation etc., despite the fact that the An Bord Pleanála report stated that there would be: ’ a significant impact on the amenity and enjoyment of c.600 properties falling within 500m of the development, with consequential long term, adverse effects for the individuals and families affected”
  • The Government narrowed the study to a single issue item – an evaluation on the cost and feasibility of overhead vs undergrounding – but refused to accept that a route-specific underground option be analysed. Lo and behold what did the Study conclusions state:
    • An Overhead line option is feasible and proven technically – nobody ever disagreed with this statement in the last 10 years
    • An underground option using HVDC is a ‘credible option’ – this has already been conceded even by EirGrid on the record a few years ago
    • The cost of the underground option is claimed to be much higher than the Overhead line, if you fail to include any costs for devaluation, impact on farming, landscape, environment etc and if you refuse to consider the €250 M delay costs to date and still rising. And if you use exaggerated/unnecessarily high capacity ratings for comparison.
  • The authors of the Study correctly highlight at the outset of the Study that the area of EMF and related risks to human and animal health are outside of their expertise and outside of the scope of the Study. Yet they proceed to include 9 pages of the 58 page report on EMF, which even includes referencing EirGrid’s EMF submission to An Bord Pleanála as an ‘independent’ reference on the subject. This is breathtakingly biased towards EirGrid, who have zero expertise in EMF, and breathtakingly provocative to affected communities.
  • One of the ‘new’ arguments in the Study against the undergrounding option is that shifting to this option now would cause up to a 5 year delay in the project and add millions of Euros in cost. This is biased and twisted logic that reveals absolutely zero context or understanding by the authors of the issues on the ground with this project. It is clear that they have not been properly briefed by either the Government or Eirgrid on reasons why the project is now 10 years behind initial schedule.
  • Another unresearched argument used for favouring overhead lines is that of future demand to tap into the Interconnector in the Republic. Has no one told the authors that EirGrid expressly removed the Kingscourt substation from the planning application because it stated that no such demand will occur in the normal planning tinmeframe for such an interconnector? Has no one shown the authors the revised EirGrid electricity demand report reduction figures of over 30% in the foreseeable future? If the authors wanted this to be a truly independent study they should have researched these facts rather than what looks like taking all EirGrid inputs as gospel.

There are many other issues NEPPC could refer to in this report, but the lesson for this Government is there in black and white on p22/23. It relates to the ALegro underground project currently being commissioned and constructed between Belgium and Germany in under 3 years timeframe. Eirgrid and the Government should take note on the developer’s approach:

‘The route was selected from a number of options in consultation with the local authorities to have the least possible impact on local residents and the environment. It avoids residential zones and areas of important biological interest (Natura 2000).’ (emphasis added)

NEPPC notes that despite all the inadequacies of the Study that none of our Ministers in the North-East have made any objections or stand against it around the Cabinet table. This will not be forgotten.

 

Ends –

Further information:

087 680 36 66;www.nepp.ie

Related:

Open Letter to Minister Naughten: North-South Interconnector dead unless its buried

Compensation study a joke

Filed under: Press Releases 2018


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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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