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

October 7, 2018

Dear Minister Naughten,

Over 20 months ago a majority of elected representatives in both the Dáil and Seanad voted in favour of an independent study to properly evaluate the real impacts of the North-South interconnector on real people living in Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh and Tyrone. After all, An Bord Pleanála itself conceded 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” for the Republic alone.

But you and your public servants decided to wilfully ignore the democratic process and instead doctored up a set of terms of reference for a study that expressly excluded either accepting or evaluating the massive negative impacts on real people. The study was narrowed down to a technical study on feasibility and cost, a study which was already carried out in 2012. You also added in a new study that was never asked for on compensation, doubtless to try and divide and conquer farmers along the route.

Lo and behold you get a conclusion that overhead lines work and will be cheaper to install if you air-brush out people impacts such as land and property devaluation, proven health risks, permanent landscape blight, and €250 Million in project delays to date. A meaningless conclusion from a stitch-up study. Despite all the manipulation of the terms of reference the study states in black and white that the underground solution is a ‘credible option’.

The study states that an argument for choosing the overhead line is to allow a whole lot of new lines to be linked up to this main artery. Let this be a warning to all the people in the North-East who think this project will not affect them directly. But the argument is in total contradiction to the fact that Eirgrid actually removed the Kingscourt substation from the planning application, due a lack of need. Minister – stop using blatantly contradictory arguments. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

The ‘compensation study’ commissioned by your Department was carried out by an economics consultant company that has looked at such varied topics as the economic impacts of Connacht rugby and the world sheep shearing championships, but has no expertise in the scientific arena of health effects from 400 thousand volt transmission lines. Yet the first conclusion of the compensation study is that ‘  there is no scientific basis for a claim that transmission lines cause health problems.’ This is an absolutely false statement that should not have been allowed to be published by your Department.

Minister, you have the authority and the responsibility to direct EirGrid to a policy of undergrounding this line. It is after all a ‘credible option’ that would carry immediate public acceptance. No more excuses. You had the strength of character to defend a hospital in your own backyard. You of all people should know that if the public are so opposed to such an objectionable infrastructure with such a personally negative footprint that it is your duty to insist on credible alternatives being examined. Instead, you and the whole FG party is hiding behind a non-binding policy document of a Labour Minister from 2012. So when you say, as you do on a frequent basis, that you ‘ will not interfere with EirGrid operational matters’ you and your FG colleagues are failing to do your job. And all the while Eirgrid and your Department is squandering more and more of taxpayers’ monies instead of facing up to the reality that this project is dead unless it is buried.

Aimée Treacy,

Chairperson, NEPPC

Related:

Government and EirGrid crafted study fails the taxpayer yet again

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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