March 26, 2021
Cautious welcome of North-South Interconnector review – Pauline Tully TD

Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Pauline Tully has given a cautious welcome to reports that the Taoiseach has confirmed that a review is to be carried out of the proposed North-South Interconnector. But she warned that the devil will be in the detail.

Teachta Tully said:

“Firstly, we will need confirmation of this review by the Minister for Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport who has responsibility in this area who had previously ruled out a review into the project in response to a parliamentary question I submitted in January.

“The terms of reference need to be adequate to avoid the opportunity for equivocation and that, in the interim, EirGrid must be directed to cease procurement of materials related to overhead pylons for the Interconnector.

“The North-South Interconnector can and should be undergrounded. This is the only way that the project will receive the necessary public acceptance from the communities affected. Previous reviews have confirmed that it is a feasible option for this development.

“We have been down this path before with previous examinations only to have local communities left disillusioned by the poor level of engagement or scope of the review.

“The terms of reference of any such review and the make-up on any panel will be crucially important. The terms must allow for a comprehensive analysis of the underground option in terms of feasibility, cost, public acceptance and impact on the environment, land-use and visual amenities.

“The government need to look at the way other counties are dealing with this issue and incorporate international best practice. This, in my view, is being dealt with best by the German government who have legislated that priority be given to the undergrounding of cabling instead of stringing cables above ground on enormous pylons.

“They have chosen to listen to the concerns of local communities and factored in the additional legal costs of attempting to push through these communities with unwanted over ground cables. 

“The position of Minister Éamon Ryan will be pivotal. The Minister previously informed me and other Deputies, including Matt Carthy, Darren O’Rourke and Johnny Guirke, that he would not consider any review. In fact, he even refused to meet anyone who had an alternative view of the project to EirGrid.  

“The first test as to whether this is a serious review will be if the government now instruct EirGrid to cease purchase of materials related to pylon-supporting powerlines, pending the result of the review.

“I commend the local campaigning communities for their determined efforts to ensure that their voices have been heard.  

“Undoubtedly, it has been their work that has brought the Taoiseach to the point of committing to a review. Vigilance is now required to ensure that the North-South Interconnector can be brought to fruition through the only means that will garner community acceptance, via the use of underground technology.”

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