Speaking in response to the decision of the Planning Appeal Commission (PAC) in the North to grant planning permission for the construction of a pylon-supported North South Interconnector project, Sinn Féin 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.
He reiterated his party’s call for the companies involved and the Irish Government to proceed with the interconnector only on the basis of underground technology.
Speaking from Brussels Matt Carthy said:
“The news that the planning permission for the North-South Interconnector has been granted by the PAC 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.
“EirGrid in particular have failed in their engagements with landowners and the public, despite their claims to the contrary and despite spending untold sums of public monies on an intensive PR campaign.
“Sinn Féin wants to see the development of a North South Interconnector, recognising that it is an important infrastructural project. But, the fact is that an over-grounded Interconnector will face fierce opposition from the rural communities concerned due to their 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.
“If EirGrid were to prioritise the public acceptance criteria then the project would be developed using underground technology. 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 policy to do so
“The judgement by the North’s Planning Appeal Commission does not change the fundamentals on the situation. If anyone wants to see the development of the North South Interconnector then they should support the demand that it be developed using underground technology in the knowledge that this is the only way it will materialise”.