Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has criticised the Communications Minister Alex White for refusing to consider a motion by Monaghan County Council calling for the cessation of work on the North-South Interconnector so that the project could be undergrounded.

The motion came on foot of comments made by Eirgrid’s Chief Executive during a meeting of the Oireachtas Communications Committee, when he admitted that the undergrounding of the lines was technically feasible.

Deputy Smith commented, “I am extremely disappointed by Minister Alex White’s stance on this issue.  Despite submitting a range of Parliamentary Questions raising concerns about the fact that the underground option was not being considered, he failed to give any straight answers, choosing to evade the specific questions.

“The North-South interconnector is an extremely contentious issue here on the border.  People have grave concerns about the fact that the Government appears to be content to press ahead with the overhead lines option, without giving due consideration to the possibility of undergrounding them.  This is despite the fact that the head of Eirgrid told the Oireachtas Communications Committee that it is technically feasible to put the lines underground.

“It is extremely unfair that the Government is continuing to refuse a review of the North-South interconnector plans, especially in light of the fact that the other 2 Grid Link projects are being reconsidered.  People here feel as if they are being ignored by this Government, which is refusing to take their concerns on board, and is now even refusing to give credible answers to Parliamentary Questions, and has now effectively passed the buck back to Eirgrid.

“I am very disappointed with the Minister’s evasive and hands-off approach to this issue.  There has been a substantial reduction in the potential cost of the undergrounding project, yet Minister White is refusing to reconsider.  This is not good enough and the people of Cavan and Monaghan will simply not accept it.   I will be continuing to put Minister White under pressure to review this project to ensure a safe and secure energy supply for people living on the border”.