Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Michael Moynihan TD, has expressed his regret at the outcome of a hurried expert panel review of the North-South interconnector project.
An expert panel was appointed shortly before May’s local and European elections charged with reviewing Eirgrid’s proposed Grid West and Grid Link projects, which would see the construction of high voltage overhead pylons throughout the West and South East of the country. The panel was later asked to review the North-South interconnector project, following political pressure from Fianna Fáil and community groups.
He commented: “This entire episode would give us grounds for serious concern that the Independent Expert Panel, which was established to look at EirGrid’s Grid West and Grid Link projects, was used by the Government to help them through a difficult election problem. There is no question about the integrity of these experts, but there are questions about how serious the Government ever was about genuinely reviewing the options for the North South Interconnector.
“The scope of the review didn’t afford the panel an opportunity to explore whether an underground option was a possibility. In other words, the people living along the corridor of the proposed overhead pylons will not have a chance to submit their views on the underground option in contrast to those living in the West and South East.
“There was never any appetite on behalf of Minister Pat Rabbitte to fully explore all options for the North-South interconnector. At the time I said this move was a badly disguised attempt to make soothing noises to communities in the North East, while simply proceeding as planned. My concerns would now appear to have been validated.
“The principle of exploring the feasibility of putting high voltage cables underground should apply across the country. It is not fair to exclude the people of the North East from this. The people living along this corridor will feel angry and betrayed by this announcement.”