Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Matt Carthy, has cautiously welcomed reports that the Taoiseach has confirmed that a review of the proposed North-South Interconnector is to be carried out. But he warned that the devil will be in the detail.
He said that confirmation is required from the Minister with responsibility, Eamon Ryan, who ruled out any such review when questioned in the Dáil by Deputies Carthy and Darren O’Rourke on March 10th.
Carthy said that any review must have adequate terms of reference that avoids the scope for fudge and that, in the interim, EirGrid must be directed to cease procurement of materials related to overhead pylons for the Interconnector.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The North-South Interconnector can and should be undergrounded. In fact, it 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.
“Therefore, I cautiously welcome reports that the Taoiseach has committed to a review of the project. But the devil will be in the detail. 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 position of Minister Éamon Ryan will be pivotal. On March 10th, the Minister informed me and other Deputies, including Darren O’Rourke, Johnny Guirke and Pauline Tully, 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, particularly the members of the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee and the North East Pylon Pressure group, 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.”