The proposed North-South electricity interconnector may yet be included in the expert-panel review of EirGrid’s plan to erect a network of high-voltage cables across the country.
Monaghan Fine Gael TD Sean Conlon raised doubts this morning that the project would be excluded from the review despite comments to the contrary made yesterday by Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte.
Mr Rabbitte said the interconnector plan, due be submitted to An Bord Pleanála within the next three weeks, would not be included as it has already been examined by international experts.
Speaking this morning, Mr Conlon said he was told by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the newly announced independent expert panel will have the power to commission a new report into the North-South interconnector if deficiencies are found in a 2012 report on the project.
“I believe that in the next 48-hours the independent expert group will be asked to review the reports already commissioned in relation to the North-South interconnector and if they feel that those reports were inadequate in relation to dealing with issues of visual impact EMFs and property devaluation they will have the power then to commission new reports and do further study in relation to those issues.”
Unlike the planned review into Eirgrid’s plans into Grid Link, Mr Conlon told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the review into the North-South interconnector only looked at the feasibility and possible costs of undergrounding - and did not consider possible route options.
EirGrid chief executive Fintan Slye said he was unaware of Mr Conlon’s comments.
“My understanding is that the scope of expert panel applies to the grid west and grid link projects. The North-South project is in a very different place.”
Mr Slye said the 2012 review into the North-South interconnector found undergrounding would cost roughly three times as much as overground cables, adding that Eirgrid hopes to submit a planning application for the project in “the next few weeks”