Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Michael Moynihan has expressed serious disappointment that EirGrid’s notice of direct planning application, published in national media outlets yesterday is proceeding, without proposals to underground any part of the North-South interconnector in the path of effected communities.
Deputy Moynihan commented: “Residents in Meath, Monaghan and Cavan are outraged that the planning application has been submitted to An Bord Pleanála to build a new 400kV AC overhead line.
“I am calling on Minister Alex White to immediately clarify the Government’s position on the North-South Interconnector and to direct EirGrid to bring forward options to underground the project. There also needs to be an immediate review of the regulations governing the construction of overhead power lines.
“EirGrid’s Chief Executive acknowledged publicly at a recent All Party Committee on Transport and Communications that it was technically feasible to underground the North-South interconnector. Fianna Fáil has made our position very clear with EirGrid. We do not believe there has been meaningful discussions with local communities, that there was very serious concern and anger among communities in the border counties arising from the Government’s decision to press ahead with the construction of overhead power lines for the North-South interconnector, despite carrying out a review of the other 2 Grid Link projects.
“The people of the North East and the border area will not allow themselves be treated as second-class citizens and will continue to demand an examination of the current proposals. It is a matter of fact that in 2009 it was estimated that undergrounding the cables would cost more than 20 times the cost involved in keeping these transmission lines above ground. This cost argument has been totally diminished and it is now widely accepted that the costs in laying the cables underground is now substantially reduced to under 2 times the cost of over-grounding.
“I am also very disappointed that EirGrid is not factoring in the devaluation of land, the severe break-up of farm holdings, major disruption to households and the threat to the entire tourism and heritage landscape of pursuing with this project as planned. The Government needs to look at this issue again. It is not acceptable for the Government to ignore facts as they change on the ground and plough on regardless.”