Tuesday 21 November 2017

Kenny tells FG TDs he will ask for North-South pylon line to be looked at

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is believed to have told Fine Gael backbenchers he will ask for the North-South Inter-connector to be part of an investigation into pylons.

But there is widespread confusion this morning over the Government's policy on the project, which runs through Meath, Monaghan and Cavan.

The project was not included in the remit of an independent commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness, carrying out an investigation into the options of running underground with the power lines.

And a planning application is expected on the North-South plan within the next three weeks.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said the line will not be included in the probe.

If the North-South line it is to be investigated, the planning application will have to be delayed substantially and the entire project held up.

Only the Grid Link, running from Cork to Kildare, and Grid West, running from Mayo to Roscommon, were handed to the commission.

But Fine Gael TDs claimed the North-South line was to be part of the investigation on running pylon lines underground.

The Taoiseach met with party TDs from the region last night. He is understood to have committed to

"The Taoiseach is going to see if he can get it included. He is going to see if Justice McGuinness will do it," a senior Fine Gael source said.

"It mightn't happen. He still has to go to Justice McGuinness. It would mean deferring planning permission. Rabbitte is to meet with with her."

Although there was no evidence the North-South line will be included in the review, party backbenchers, including Sean Conlon, Ray Butler, Helen McEntee and Heather Humphreys did meet with the Taoiseach. 

Mr Conlon said Mr Kenny had agreed to extend the remit of the commission.

The Taoiseach is believed to have told the backbenchers he will look into having the North-South line examined - but gave no guarantee.

EirGrid wants to run a 400 kilo-volt power line overground from Meath to Tyrone.

The commission chaired by former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness will look at the underground options on the Grid Link and Grid West projects - not the North-South line.

A Government source said the North-South Interconnector was not included in the investigation.

Mr Rabbitte was solely responding to public consultation on "more recent and less well advanced projects", the source said.

EirGrid have already decided the route of the North-South line and the planning application will be lodged inside three weeks. 

Mr Conlon claimed Mr Kenny had agreed to extend the remit of the expert commission to the North-South Interconnector.

He said it was a "game-changer" and the panel would be able to incorporate existing research and commission new work, if it was not satisfied.

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