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Government says overground option for North-South interconnector will go ahead as planned

The Minister for Communications confirmed that the interconnector would be constructed even in the event of a hard Brexit.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said that proposals by EirGrid to use overhead power lines to build the North-South Interconnector will go ahead.

Earlier this week, the Government considered two reports into the interconnector commissioned by Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.

One of the reports, which looked at the cost and technical feasibility of building the interconnector underground, found that using electricity pylons was the preferable option by a ratio of 3:1.

The plans envisage a 400kV overhead electric power-line linking an existing substation in Woodland, Co Meath, with a planned substation in Turleenan, Co Tyrone.

299 pylons are expected to be built across Cavan, Meath and Monaghan as part of the project, which An Bord Pleanála approved in 2016.

The proposals have angered locals in the three counties, who have voiced concerns about potential impacts on the environment, their health and property prices.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 today, Naughten pointed to the potential offered by the overground option.

“The benefit of an overhead line is that you have the opportunity for investment along the route of that line,” he said.

“Particularly in Co Monaghan, where there has been pinch points in the past in relation to electricity supply, there’s an opportunity to bring new investment there as well as supply.”

National Broadband Plan

The Minster said that the interconnector would bring about a more balanced electricity supply across Ireland, and that it would go ahead even in the event of a hard Brexit.

“This is one issue that I’ve specifically looked at with my officials,” Naughten said, adding that there were commitments from both the British and Irish governments to ensure that the plans proceed.

“We’re determined to make sure that that happens, and the connector is a key part of [electricity] infrastructure.”

In the same interview, Naughten also confirmed a report that he attended a dinner in New York with David McCourt, the head of the Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder for the National Broadband Plan.

However, he insisted that he regularly met with investors as part of his ministerial duties and suggested that the National Broadband Plan was only discussed briefly.

“I made it clear to him that the requests for documentation and information from my Department were responded to in a timely manner,” Naughten said.

“David McCourt did give an indication that there may an application to the Department for an alteration of the consortium, but that was the sum total of the discussion in relation to that.”

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