Fianna Fáil TD for Meath West Shane Cassells says his party remains fully behind the undergrounding of the North South interconnector. Deputy Cassells made the comments after An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant approval for the project.

“This project has been an extremely contentions issue for people living in Meath ever since it was first announced. The way the project has been handled to date has been less than desirable and there has been little effort made to bring the community on board with the project,” said Deputy Cassells.

“I have made my views known on the project long ago. I campaigned in the election on the basis that the interconnector must be placed underground. This remains my position.

“Eirgrid itself has admitted that the cost of laying the cables underground has been vastly reduced – from 20 times the original cost down to 1.5 times that cost. The company needs to listen to the concerns of local residents and ensure that a greater emphasis is placed on upgrading the current infrastructure as well as giving serious consideration to placing the line underground.

“Community consensus needs to be achieved to allow this project to proceed. Many people feel that they have been ignored, both by Eirgrid and by the latest Government, who seemed determined to plough ahead with the project without listening to local voices. Eirgrid in particular have pursued an irrational agenda from the start though their failure to give any serious consideration to the option of undergrounding the interconnector.

“The decision made by An Bord Pleanála is disappointing but there is still time for Eirgrid to do the right thing and proceed with the project on the basis of placing the interconnector underground. Fianna Fáil remains fully committed to the undergrounding of the interconnector. This is the only way that the project can proceed,” said Deputy Cassells.