Fianna Fáil TD for Meath East Thomas Byrne says he is bitterly disappointed by the decision made by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the North – South Interconnector.

Deputy Byrne says Fianna Fáil remains fully behind the undergrounding of the interconnector.

“I’ve long held the view that this project is unworkable as currently proposed. Eirgrid and the current Government have failed to achieve community consensus for the project and local residents are understandably angry as their concerns simply have not been taken on board,” said Deputy Byrne.

“People living in Meath have not been treated equally as the development of new transmission lines in other parts of the country are proceeding with the lines being placed underground. However Meath residents keep being told that the North South Interconnector has to be developed over ground. Why should different standards have to apply for the people of Meath?

“Eirgrid itself has admitted that the cost of laying the cables underground has been vastly reduced. The cost of placing them underground has fallen by 20 times the original cost down to 1.5 times that cost. Technology is also becoming more advanced over time and the costs of undergrounding will continue to fall.

“Eirgrid must focus its energy on advancing the project on the basis of placing the interconnector underground instead of going against the wishes of the local community at every opportunity. Belgium and Germany recently agreed a similar project between their two countries which will proceed with the transmission lines being placed underground. The same should happen with the North – South Interconnector.

“Fianna Fáil stands by its commitment that this project can only proceed on the basis that the lines are placed underground. I will continue to campaign for the lines to be placed underground. This is the only way that this project will proceed,” concluded Deputy Byrne.