“North-South Interconnector can & must be undergrounded” – Matt Carthy MEP
“The proposed North-South Interconnector can and must be undergrounded as it is only mechanism by which it can be delivered” Matt Carthy MEP has sated. The Sinn Féin representative was speaking following the publication this week of a government commissioned report into the feasibility and cost of undergrounding which, Carthy said, accepted that undergrounding was not only feasible but ‘a credible option’.
Matt Carthy said:
“Despite the spin, the government commissioned report clearly shows that undergrounding of the North-South Interconnector is feasible. Indeed the report goes for far as to describe it as ‘a credible option’ confirming what campaigning communities have been saying for the past decade.
“While the report authors favour the overhead AC option for developing the project their arguments against proceeding using DC underground technology are in no way preventative. A primary argument, in fact, appears to be that it should proceed by overhead routes because of the lack of Irish experience in using the underground option – on that basis we would never use any new technologies in our infrastructure! The main failing in the report, however, is the failure to consider the issue of public acceptance of the various options available. It is the principle of public acceptance that has driven the use of underground technologies in the case studies highlighted in the report.
“The North-South Interconnector project, as currently planned, lacks the necessary public acceptance among the affected communities and landowners. Without that public acceptance the project will not be completed.
“Therefore all those who want to see the project proceed, as we in Sinn Féin do, should accept that it is only by proceeding with an underground proposal that it can actually be delivered.
“Any over-ground high-voltage Interconnector will face major public opposition. While the report cites increased costs for the underground option these costs are associated with the initial development stage. It takes no cognisance of the costs of the delays thus far and the substantial further delays that are likely to emerge with the overhead option due to public opposition.
“The report outlines a number of case studies where similar Interconnectors have been developed using underground technologies. In all cases the projects were delivered most faster than the North-South Interconnector and there has been almost zero public opposition.
“One of the case-studies in the ALEGrO Interconnector between Belgium and Germany. Last year, I hosted a delegation of stakeholders and community representatives living along the proposed route of the Interconnector to visit the headquarters of Elia, the Belgian electricity transmission operator, which is responsible for developing that project. The ALEGrO project has many similarities with the North South Interconnector but with one fundamental difference – it will be entirely undergrounded.
“At the forefront of the criteria used by Elia to determine the methods of providing infrastructure was the principal of public acceptance.
“Public acceptance doesn’t feature on the EirGrid or SONI criteria at all. It is clear that consideration for the views of local communities is an important factor that has resulted in the ALEGrO project being undergrounded while the North South Interconnector is not.
Pressure on local TDs!
“This now boils down to a political campaign. Government can direct that the project proceed only on the basis of undergrounding.
“All eyes are on government-supporting Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael TDs, including Ministers, who represent the counties affected. They should commit to withdrawing their support for government unless the principle of public acceptance is embedded into this process.
“The international evidence clearly shows that undergrounding this project is possible and feasible. It is likely in fact to be the economically sounder option in the long term. This latest report reaffirms that, regardless of the couched language and the EirGrid spin used to undermine the facts.
“For our part in Sinn Féin we will continue to use our mandate, North and South, to see the implementation of our party policy which directs that the project can only happen if undergrounded.