Mixed response to decision to grant planning approval for North-South interconnector

Almost 300 pylons will be constructed across counties Meath, Cavan and Monaghan

There has been a mixed response to An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant planning approval for the North-South interconnector.

Eirgrid had proposed 300 KV pylons across Cavan, Monaghan and Meath through to Northern Ireland, from Batterstown in Meath, to Turleenan in Co Tyrone.

However, landowners and residents raised numerous concerns about the project during a 12-week oral hearing into the development earlier this year.

The approval, which can be read in full here, is subject to nine conditions.

In a statement to Northern Sound News, The North East Pylon Pressure Group said it's neither surprised nor concerned with the decision to approve the project.

"The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) is neither surprised nor concerned with today’s decision by An Bord Pleanála (ABP) to approve the North-South Interconnector (NSI) overhead lines and pylons planning application.

"It changes nothing. The application has yet to go through the approval process in Northern Ireland. There will also be challenges and Judicial reviews likely in both the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland."

The pressure group added it is "beyond rational comprehension how the planning application could have been approved by ABP. EirGrid made a significant number of material changes during the Oral Hearing process, without challenge from ABP."

Fianna Fáil TD for Meath East Thomas Byrne said he is "bitterly disappointed" by the decision, and remains fully behind the undergrounding of the interconnector.

"I’ve long held the view that this project is unworkable as currently proposed. Eirgrid and the current Government have failed to achieve community consensus for the project and local residents are understandably angry as their concerns simply have not been taken on board,” said Deputy Byrne.

“People living in Meath have not been treated equally as the development of new transmission lines in other parts of the country are proceeding with the lines being placed underground. However Meath residents keep being told that the North South Interconnector has to be developed over ground. Why should different standards have to apply for the people of Meath?"

Meanwhile, IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, expressed satisfaction with the decision in a statement.

IBEC head of Infrastructure, Dr Neil Walker, said: "This investment is vitally important for security of supply on the island and hence future job creation. It will help to keep down electricity prices for all customers by allowing the most efficient generators to run. In doing so, it will also help Ireland to meet its renewable energy targets for 2020 and beyond.”