Residents seek to halt oral hearing on EirGrid pylons plan

Group claims North-South connector poses health risks and will damage the environment

EirGrid says the project is important because there is only one interconnector between the two jurisdictions. File image:  Eric Luke/The Irish Times

EirGrid says the project is important because there is only one interconnector between the two jurisdictions. File image: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A group opposed to overhead pylons as part of the proposed North-South electricity interconnector project wants permission to bring a High Court action aimed at halting an oral hearing of EirGrid plc’s application to erect 300 pylons across three counties.

The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) Ltd, representing almost 200 landowners in Counties Cavan, Meath and Monaghan, wants the court to give it permission to bring proceedings against An Bord Pleanála over its decision to hold an oral hearing as part of the planning process.

The oral hearing, which began earlier this month in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, is expected to last for 12 weeks.

The group dispute the validity of the North-South 400kv Interconnector application submitted by EirGrid in June 2015.

EirGrid applied for permission to build the pylons to the planning appeals board under Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) legislation.

The group, represented by Esmonde Keane SC, claim the application is invalid because of difficulties with the application’s Environmental Impact and Natura Impact Statements. They also argue EirGrid was not the actual applicant and the application does not comply with planning and development legislation.

An Bord Pleanala and EirGrid plc, a notice party, are opposing the application for leave to bring the case on grounds including delay in bringing it.

The Board, represented by Emily Egan SC, and EirGrid, represented by Brian Murray SC, argue any challenge has to be brought within eight weeks of the decision to hold the oral hearing.

It is also argued the proceedings are premature because the Board has not made a decision on EirGrid’s application.

Earlier this month, the High Court refused the group a temporary injunction preventing the oral hearing proceeding pending the outcome of the court proceedings.

The hearing of the application for permission to bring the challenge opened before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys at the High Court on Friday and will resume later this month.

The group is opposed to the project on the grounds it allegedly poses health risks to communities and will damage the environment.

EirGrid says the project is important because there is only one interconnector between the two jurisdictions. It say, to prevent problems, it wants to restrict the amount of power that can flow through the interconnector to levels well below what customers require and says the solution involves installing a second interconnector.