Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has reiterated Sinn Féin’s unambiguous opposition to the proposed North-South Interconnector as currently planned by EirGrid and SONI. He said that this position has been reaffirmed by several Sinn Féin Ard Fheiseanna including the Ard Fheis held in November of last year.
Matt Carthy said:
“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.
“The project promoters, including EirGrid and SONI, have failed to engage in any meaningful way with affected landowners and the public, despite spending large amounts of public funds on an intensive publicity campaign.
“Any over-ground high-voltage Interconnector will face major public opposition.
“Affected rural communities are deeply concerned at the impact the current proposal will have on the local tourism and agriculture industries. There are also deeply held concerns regarding the public health impact.
“Promoters of the current project have been dismissive of community concerns and indeed have devoted much of their considerable resources to demonising anyone who questions the current proposal.
“Last September, I hosted a delegation of stakeholders and community representatives living along the proposed route of the Interconnector in Brussles.
“The delegation visited the headquarters of Elia, the Belgian electricity transmission operator, which is responsible for developing the Aachen-Liege (ALEGrO) Interconnector between Belgium and Germany. 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.
“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.
“Should EirGrid and SONI refuse to adopt this position then they should be directed by government to do so.
“Everyone who wants to see the development of the North South Interconnector should get behind the demand that it is developed using underground technology in the knowledge that this is the only way it will go ahead.
“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”.