North-South Interconnector will proceed regardless of Brexit - Naughten

Overhead cables will allow more opportunities for investment along line, Minister says

Opponents of the North-South Interconnector want the lines to run underground.

Opponents of the North-South Interconnector want the lines to run underground.

 

The North-South Interconnector will go ahead regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, Minister for Communication Denis Naughten said on Thursday.

The controversial project comprises a 400kv overhead line linking an ESB substation in Woodland, Co Meath, with a planned substation in Turleenan, Co Tyrone.

The aim of the project is to provide a second high-capacity all-Ireland electricity interconnector between the Republic of Ireland and the North alongside the existing 275kv overhead line which runs between Co Louth and Co Armagh.

Meath East TD and Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection Regina Doherty has previously said her opposition to the overground electricity interconnector from Co Meath to Co Tyrone is more important to her than her position around the Cabinet table.

On Thursday morning Mr Naughten said there was a commitment from the UK and Irish governments to the project and they were “determined to ensure that it happens”.

Yesterday, in a statement the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said the Government will not intervene in EirGrid’s plans to build the North-South Interconnector using overhead power lines for the entire route.

“It is now to be expected that EirGrid and ESB Networks will go about their operational business in accordance with their statutory remit, Mr Naughten told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Naughten said the Cabinet had considered two reports on the technical feasibility and cost of going underground which ultimately recommended the overhead line option.

This will allow more opportunities for investment along the line, said the Minister. It will mean a more balanced supply for the network.

EirGrid has restated that it plans to proceed with the overhead line option.

Opponents of the plan, including the North East Pylon Pressure (NEPP have in the past taken issue with Eirgrid’s scientific advice on the technical reliability of underground cabling. They are calling for the line to go underground.

The project is supported by business lobby group Ibec.