Tuesday 18 December 2018

North-South electricity interconnector given green light

The plan uses overhead cables
The plan uses overhead cables

John Mulgrew

A £200m electricity project linking Northern Ireland and the Republic will secure energy needs for households and businesses after being given the green light, it's been claimed.

The north-south inter-connector will go through Tyrone, Armagh, Cavan, Monaghan and into Meath, once work begins.

Yesterday, the Northern Ireland element of the development was awarded approval, following a review by the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC). Approval was granted by the Department for Infrastructure. The plan will see 136km of overhead cables, connecting the two regions. Work is expected to begin this year.

Residents of border areas around Co Tyrone, Armagh and Cavan are opposed to the scheme, arguing that, instead, pipes should be laid below ground, an option which SONI has said is not feasible.

Ellvena Graham, president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the project has been among "the top infrastructure priorities for our members since 2009". "We therefore welcome the department's decision to grant permission for the project despite the lack of an Infrastructure Minister at Stormont - an action which will significantly speed up the delivery of the project."

Retail NI CEO Glyn Roberts said the decision is "excellent news for our economy as it is an investment in the future of our energy infrastructure, securing electricity supply and in the longer term, lower energy bills for our members".

Business groups in the Republic also welcomed the planning approval. Ibec said it was a major milestone "in what is arguably the single most urgent infrastructure project on the island of Ireland".

"A study last year jointly commissioned by Ibec and CBI Northern Ireland found that improved grid interconnection would reduce energy costs for businesses and households across the island," said Ibec Head of Infrastructure, Dr Neil Walker.

Chambers Ireland CEO Ian Talbot said the interconnector will improve security of electricity supply for Irish businesses and in turn strengthen the Integrated Single Electricity Market to the benefit of both businesses and consumers.

Irish Independent

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