North’s business leaders push for £200m electricity interconnector

Public inquiry will hear call for ‘urgent delivery’ of North-South energy link

Power sharing:  A public inquiry into  a proposed all-island grid  – which would cross five counties – begins in Armagh on Wednesday and is expected to run for three weeks.  Photograph: European Commission Audiovisual Library

Power sharing: A public inquiry into a proposed all-island grid – which would cross five counties – begins in Armagh on Wednesday and is expected to run for three weeks. Photograph: European Commission Audiovisual Library

 

The proposed North-South electricity interconnector could be a “catalyst for the Northern Ireland economy,” according to a coalition of business bodies that have voiced support for the project ahead of a public inquiry.

Industry groups are campaigning for the “urgent delivery” of the £200 million (€236 million) cross-Border project, which has already received planning approval in the Republic. A public inquiry into the interconnector – which would cross five counties – begins in Armagh on Wednesday and is expected to run for three weeks.

Bodies backing the project at the inquiry include the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry (Northern Ireland), the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Centre for Competitiveness and the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association.

“Delivery of the North-South interconnector is a top priority for the Northern Ireland chamber’s membership,” said Kirsty McManus, from the chamber of commerce. “Businesses and employers need access to electricity in the most cost efficient manner possible, and the proposed interconnector is key to achieving this.

“It is an essential piece of infrastructure which will allow the all-island electricity market to do what it was designed to do – achieve savings for all consumers North and South. This has real value to business and therefore to our members and we will continue to vocalise our support.”

Economic infrastructure

Confederation of British Industry (Northern Ireland) regional director Angela McGowan also sees the interconnector as a crucial piece of economic infrastructure.

“A secure, sustainable and cost-efficient electricity supply is absolutely essential for large energy users and potential investors looking at Northern Ireland as somewhere to do business,” she said.

“As things stand, there is a threat to security of electricity supply from 2021 onwards. No modern economy can thrive without an affordable, guaranteed, supply of electricity. Therefore we need to see the proposed North-South interconnector delivered as soon as possible to provide the certainty needed by industry and employers to allow the Northern Irish economy to fulfil its potential.”