North-South interconnector gets An Bord Pleanála go ahead

21 Dec 2016

Image: The Art Friday/Shutterstock

A major multi-county electricity interconnector proposed by EirGrid has received approval from An Bord Pleanála, as the North-South project nears a full go-ahead.

With plans to build almost 300 pylons in counties Meath, Cavan and Monaghan, EirGrid’s North-South 400 kV interconnector has finally received approval in the Republic of Ireland.

The proposal had been criticised by residents across the 140km route the pylons would take, with a group representing affected landowners fighting the plans, due to the impact it will have across various counties.

In An Bord Pleanála’s final report, though, those complaints didn’t sway the decision.

“Whilst it is recognised that the proposed development will result in a limited number of localised impacts, having regard to the identified strategic need for the development, the routing and detailed design of the alignment to avoid environmental constraints, it is considered that subject to compliance with the mitigation measures,” said the inspector.

EirGrid is delighted with the decision, calling the project “undoubtedly the most important infrastructure scheme on the island today”.

“We believe the North-South Interconnector will also provide local benefit for the people of the north-east by strengthening the electricity network in the region; a catalyst for inward investment and job creation,” said Fintan Slye, Eirgrid’s chief executive.

An Bord Pleanála noted that approval of this project is one way to help both affected countries meet their legally binding greenhouse gas emission targets, thanks to an expanded realm of renewables.

The project has not received ultimate approval just yet, with a separate Project of Common Interest approval needed to help speed up dealings between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

In the north, a public enquiry in February will also decide on the project, with final permission expected late next year.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic