Eirgrid can access land without farmers' consent

Company says there is no legal onus on it to obtain permission from farmers for Interconnector project testing

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Eirgrid won't need consent from farmers when they start the design and testing on the controversial North-South Interconnector, a spokesperson for the company has confirmed.

In February, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal over An Bord Pleanála's approval for the planned 138km project which is due to commence shortly.

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The Interconnector project comprises a 400kV overhead line linking an existing substation in Woodland, Co Meath, with a planned substation in Turleenan, Co Tyrone.

EirGrid spokesperson David Martin said February's ruling means that the North-South Interconnector has cleared all of the planning and legal hurdles in Ireland and can proceed to construction.

Eirgrid said there is no requirement to access land for the design and testing element of the project. It also added there is no legal onus on the company or the ESB to obtain consent from farmers to access the land affected by the project.

"However, from the outset we have sought to work closely with farmers regarding accessing their lands in order to minimise disruption," said Mr Martin."We will continue to engage with landowners and keep them informed as the project progresses.

"All of the access routes for construction, over 500 in total, were identified as part of the planning process.

"Landowners were provided with maps and aerial photographs showing where these pass through their lands.

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"At this stage we don't envisage making any changes to the access routes. However, if any landowners would like to suggest alternatives or modifications we are happy to discuss.

"Landowners directly impacted by the project have a legal right to financial compensation, and this will be discussed with them in advance of construction," he said

Legal challenge

"The design and testing part of the contract will commence shortly, but the main part of the contract will not commence until the planning process in Northern Ireland is complete," added Mr Martin.

In Northern Ireland, planning approval was granted in January 2018.

However, in February 2019, the planning approval was withdrawn due to a legal challenge that argued that approval could not be granted in the absence of the Infrastructure Minister.

The application has now returned to the Department for Infrastructure for re-consideration with a decision expected in the coming months.

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