Thursday 27 April 2017

FF motion puts Doherty in tough position over pylons

Dáil motion: Regina Doherty. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Dáil motion: Regina Doherty. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil is to put pressure on the Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty with a Dáil motion calling for a review of the North-South Interconnector (NSIC) project.

The party wants a new expert analysis of the plan to erect 300 pylons across three counties, including the Meath constituency of Ms Doherty.

After the massive project was approved by An Bord Pleanála in December, the Fine Gael TD said her opposition to the overground electricity interconnector was more important to her than her position around the Cabinet table.

Fianna Fáil is now calling on the Government to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the project, taking into account the developments in technology since it was originally proposed.

It also wants a fresh study on "the potential impacts of both undergrounding and over grounding the NSIC on surrounding areas, considering such aspects as its impact on local tourism, health, landscape, agriculture and heritage".

The party's environment spokesman, Timmy Dooley, told the Irish Independent it supports the need for the project, but wants to be sure that the right approach is taken.

"We are committed to effective large infrastructure projects like this but there is a need to have input in the planning and development from communities," he said.

He described the pylon plan as "one of the biggest and most contentious" to be undertaken in recent years.

"We see issues around roads in parts of the country being resolved and this can be too. We are seeking an incremental solution by getting international industry experts involved," he said.

Mr Dooley said Fianna Fáil expected wide support in the Dáil for the motion but had not yet discussed it with Fine Gael.

Ms Doherty was not available for comment yesterday but has previously said she has no intention of "embarrassing" her Cabinet colleagues over the issue.

Housing and Urban Renewal Minister Damien English and Mental Health and Older People Minister Helen McEntee are both from Meath constituencies that would be affected by the project.

If acted upon, the Fianna Fáil motion would delay the project by at least several months.

Irish Independent

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