North-South power pylon line to proceed

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Caroline O'Doherty

The North-South electricity interconnector is to go ahead, with a 138km long line of pylons to be erected across Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.

The installation will allow for much greater power exchange with Northern Ireland which successive governments since the mid-2000s have said is essential for security of supply

Just one 300 megawatt (MW) line currently runs between the two parts of the island. The new interconnector will have the capacity to carry 1500MW.

But the plan has attracted opposition since it was first proposed in 2007 with some landowners along the extensive route vowing not to cooperate with project managers, Eirgrid.

Objections have centred mainly on the decision to use overhead pylons rather than underground cables.

Eirgrid has said the underground option would be more expensive and not as stable or reliable. It has commissioned several reports reaching the same conclusion.

Last year, then Tánaiste Leo Varadkar announced an independent review of the most recent report.

That review, published on Tuesday night, says the report’s conclusions remain valid, although undergrounding could be considered for other future projects.

A Government statement said: “The North-South Interconnector has received planning approval in both Ireland and Northern Ireland and is now ready to enter the construction phase, and is anticipated to be completed by 2026.

“This strategic project will more than double the power transfer between North and South and is deemed critical to the security of electricity supply across the island of Ireland.

“In addition, the interconnector will be able to accommodate a high level of renewable energy on the electricity system, thereby decarbonising our electricity grid and contributing to the achievement of Ireland’s climate objectives.”

Negotiations with landowners began in the 2000s but there have been few talks in the last few years as progress on the project stalled.

Eirgrid said: “There will be full engagement with landowners, local communities and stakeholders along the route as we proceed with the project.”

The project was last costed in 2013 when it carried a price tag of just under €300m but the cost is expected to be much higher 10 years on.