Carthy seeks update on North-South Interconnector ‘review’
In the Dáil last week Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, put questions to the Climate Minister Eamon Ryan in respect of the ongoing review into the North South Interconnector.
Carthy, who has previously stated that the review established by government ‘falls far short of what is needed and what was promised’ asked Minister Eamon Ryan when that review will be completed and whether he intends to publish it.
In his response Minister Ryan stated: “The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island Integrated Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also facilitate the achievement of the goal to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.
“The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission’s report of October 2018 was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this critical electricity infrastructure.
“Notwithstanding this, I decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. Formal procurement of international experts in electricity grid infrastructure was completed last September. Whilst my Department had hoped to receive their report before now, the experts have informed my officials that they plan to submit it to the Department by next month. I will move to publish it shortly after I have received and considered it.”
Deputy Carthy also asked Minister Ryan of the impact that delays to the North-South interconnector have had on energy security and his views on whether the project could more readily progress if undertaken in a manner that had the support of affected communities.
In reply to that question the Green Party leader said: “The existing interconnector arrangement between Ireland and Northern Ireland creates a physical constraint on the flow of electricity between the two jurisdictions. This affects the level of support that can be provided from one to the other in times of security of supply challenges. As EirGrid’s most recent Generation Capacity Statement outlines, generation adequacy shifts year-on-year, according to changes in demand. This proposed North-South Interconnector remains vital for the medium to long-term security of supply on the island of Ireland, as does the existing interconnection with Great Britain.
“The development of this interconnector will provide reinforcement to the North-east area grid by providing an additional high capacity circuit in the region, thus reducing flows on the existing circuits. This additional transmission capacity will cater for growth in electricity consumption for many years and will also put the north-east area in a very good position if higher demand for electricity emerges through inward investment”.
Speaking this week Deputy Carthy repeated his view that the so-called ‘review’ of the Interconnector will not provide the assurance and clarity that communities need.
He said: “It has been clear for several years that the only way that the North South Interconnector can proceed with the public acceptance of affected communities is if it is developed underground. Such an approach is feasible and credible, according to previous government commissioned studies.
“The terms of reference of the proposed review does not constitute a meaningful consideration of the underground option – it effectively limits the group to reviewing a select number of previous reviews.
“This falls far short of what is needed and what was promised by Fianna Fáil representatives when it was first announced.
“The refusal of Minister Ryan to consider any alternative to EirGrid’s current plans is disappointing as is the failure thus far of local government Ministers to take a stand on behalf of the communities that elected them to the Dáil.
“Sinn Féin will continue to press all government representatives on this matter. A full independent feasibility assessment of an underground option for the interconnector is required; nothing less will do.”