How high could compensation levels rise for North/South interconnector project?

A financial package for landowners affected by the North/South interconnector is currently being finalised, according to Eirgrid.

It is believed that approximately 400 landowners will be affected by the development of the Interconnector, if it goes ahead.

Despite the fact that the compensation package for landowners affected by the interconnector in still ‘in play’, previous agreements indicate that the compensation could reach or exceed €22,000/pylon.

In 1985, a Code of Practice was drawn up between the ESB and the IFA, a statement from Eirgrid read. This Code of Practice set out a framework for compensation payable to landowners for overhead transmission lines, it added.

It states: “These payments compensate landowners for the areas of ground that are no longer available for normal farming, due to the presence of structures that support transmission lines.

“Landowners are also compensated for any land damage or crop loss that may occur during the construction phase of a project. Compensation may be payable where transmission lines prevent a viable development on the same site – such as a house or farm building.

“Further agreements also provide compensation to landowners for the loss of tree-planting rights and forestry.

In 2009, a ‘Flexibility of Access’ payment for new overhead transmission lines was agreed, according to the statement.

This provides for payments of €11,000/double wood pole set and €22,000/pylon, in return for landowner co-operation with the construction programme.

“A fixed payment of €2,500 is also payable to landowners where the line crosses their land but who do not have a mast or poles on their land,” the statement read.

The North/South interconnector project will see the addition of a new 400kV overhead line connecting the electricity grids of Ireland and Northern Ireland. EirGrid has explained that compensation rates vary from project to project and that each case is assessed on its own merits.

North/South interconnector

According to EirGrid, the North/South interconnector is a vital piece of grid infrastructure, which will strengthen the electricity grids both north and south of the border.

The line is set to run through counties Monaghan, Cavan and Meath in the Republic, and Armagh and Tyrone in Northern Ireland.

In December 2016, An Bord Pleanala granted planning approval for the southern element of the interconnector, Eirgrid said. A number of judicial reviews relating to An Bord Pleanala’s decision are currently before the courts.

The planning enquiry concluded in Northern Ireland on February 27; a decision is expected before the end of the year, it added.

Overhead versus underground

Responding to a parliamentary question in the Dail recently, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Denis Naughten, said a proposal for an independent study on the project is currently being prepared.

“I have requested officials in my Department to prepare a proposal for an updated, independent study that will bring further clarity to the relative cost and technical merits of overhead and underground solutions for the North South interconnector.

“The section of the project in Ireland which received planning permission from An Bord Pleanala in December 2016 is currently the subject of judicial review proceedings. The planning process is still underway in Northern Ireland.

“Construction of the project is not planned to commence before 2018 and I intend that this report be completed and published before the end of this year,” Minister Naughten said.