Rabbitte to meet pylons expert panel chairwoman today

Possible review of North-South interconnector to be discussed

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte is to discuss a possible analysis of the work so far on the North-South interconnector when he meets the chairwoman of the expert panel on pylons today.

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte is to discuss a possible analysis of the work so far on the North-South interconnector when he meets the chairwoman of the expert panel on pylons today.

 


Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte is to discuss a possible analysis of the work so far on the North-South interconnector when he meets the chairwoman of the expert panel on pylons today.

He said he would ask former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness to consider what work, if any, that the panel might usefully undertake to establish whether or not there was “parity of treatment’’ between the North-South transmission line project, in terms of work carried out to date, and the issues the panel would examine relating to Grid Link and Grid West in the future.


Previous studies
He said he recognised that the public would be reassured if they knew the overhead and underground options for the North-South project had both been investigated and that the already published studies were sufficient to enable a similar comparison to be made by An Bord Pleanála when it came to decide on the merits of the planning application.

The Minister said detailed studies had already been conducted for the North-South project, most recently by the independent international commission of experts appointed in July 2011 arising from a commitment in the programme for government. A specific underground analysis found that it would exceed the cost of overhead cables by at least three times.

“The North-South transmission line is a critical and strategically urgent transmission reinforcement and is of critical importance in the broader North-South context,’’ he added. “This is because as well as reinforcing the grid in the northeast region of the State, the transmission line will be a vital link in maintaining the security of electricity supply for Northern Ireland into the future.’’

Mr Rabbitte said that the health issue was a matter for Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.

“There is no question of the health issue not being included in the panel,’’ he added.

He added Mr Hogan was arranging for expert advice to bring a 2007 report up to date.


Independent review
Michael Moynihan of Fianna Fáil said there were conflicting reports from various political parties on whether the North- South interconnector would be included in the review. “For completeness, we called for an independent international review prior to Christmas,’’ he added.

Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party said many communities were extremely concerned about the pylon infrastructure in terms of its effect on the environment, fears for their health and its impact on people’s daily lives. Many were unconvinced by the expert panel and viewed it as the Government’s way of getting past the local and European elections.