Government must direct that North-South Interconnector be constructed with underground technology – Carthy
Speaking in response to the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold planning permission for the construction of the North South Interconnector project using overhead pylon-supported power lines, Midlands North West MEP Matt Carthy said that it doesn’t change the fact that the proposed development does not have public acceptance among the affected communities and landowners.
The Sinn Féin representative restated his call on the government to direct that the project be constructed using underground technology. He said that it was his firm belief that it was only through such a government direction that the project will be delivered at all.
Speaking from Brussels Matt Carthy said:
“The news that the Supreme Court has upheld the decision of An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the North-South Interconnector does not change the fact that the project has not the necessary public acceptance among the affected communities or landowners. Without that public acceptance the project will not be completed.
“Sinn Féin wants to see the development of a North South Interconnector, recognising that it is an important infrastructural project. But, the level of opposition to the over-grounded Interconnector is such that proceeding with the current proposals will simply lead to one delay after another and the likelihood that it won’t be delivered at all. Therefore pursuing this option only serves to frustrate and anger rural communities who have expressed genuine fears of the impact the proposal will have on the grounds of health, the visual amenities of their areas and its impact on local businesses, particularly in tourism and agriculture.
“Rather than addressing these concerns EirGrid have engaged in an elaborate campaign of dismissal and demonisation of anyone who disagrees with them. Their actions have already led to a decade long delay to the project.
“The delays will continue. Planning permission is not in place for the project in the north, it is probable that we will see prolonged legal and political machinations before that process is finalised.
“EirGrid have not permission to enter the lands on which the Interconnector to be constructed. In fact there isn’t a single landowner on the route that has indicated that they would be willing to provide access – quite the opposite in fact. Herein lies the problem – If EirGrid were to prioritise the public acceptance criteria, as happens in other states, then the project would be developed using underground technology. The international evidence clearly shows that undergrounding this project is possible and feasible. So too does the government’s own commissioned report into the matter.
“The judgement by the Supreme Court does not change the fundamentals of the situation. Anybody who wants to see the development of the North South Interconnector should support the demand that it be developed using underground technology. They should do so because is the only way it will materialise.
“Likewise, the government need to ask themselves the question: ‘How much more time, money and good will are they willing to waste by allowing EirGrid to pursue this project via this planning permission that has zero public acceptance in the affected communities.”