Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher says his party remains fully behind the undergrounding of the North South interconnector. An Bord Pleanala is due to make a decision on the project shortly.
Senator Gallagher explained, “This project has been an extremely contentious issue in Monaghan, Cavan and Meath ever since it was first announced. The way the project has been handled has been less than desirable.
“Many people along the border feel as if they have been ignored, both by Eirgrid and by the last Government, who seemed determined to plough ahead with the project without listening to local voices. From the start, they attempted to talk up the overground option without ever really giving the underground option any serious consideration.
“Residents in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath are angry that despite holding public meetings, Eirgrid only submitted one option – a 400kV AC overhead line, which will run through all three counties – to An Bord Pleanala. Were these meetings nothing more than an exercise in good public relations?
“Eirgrid itself has admitted that the cost of laying the cables underground has been vastly reduced – from 20 times the original cost down to 2 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.
“The border counties are already feeling the impact of this year’s Brexit vote, and this decision by people living in the UK could have a knock-on effect for this project. Has the Government or Eirgrid considered what implications Brexit may have on this cross border project? Does An Bord Pleanala intend to give Brexit implications any consideration? Could a decision be delayed until we have more information about what form the relationship between North and South will take?
“All issues need to be assessed to ensure a safe and secure energy supply for people living along the border, and right across the island of Ireland. Fianna Fáil continues to support the undergrounding of this project”.