“The Taoiseach’s misleading association of emigration with delays in implementing EirGrid’s €3.2 billion Grid 25 plan had now been added to by the equally disingenuous claim by EirGrid’s Chief Executive, Fintan Slye, that any delay in the company’s overhead cable plan would seriously damage the prospects of attracting or maintaining foreign direct investment,” stated Marian Harkin MEP.

The Ireland West MEP is calling for a more honest debate on the current need for the Grid25 project, at this time, compared with more important investments in other services and other infrastructural deficiencies.

She commented: “The recent publicity campaign by EirGrid, in addition to misrepresenting the SCHENIR report on health issues is clearly designed to pressure the review panel chaired by former Justice Catherine McGuinness not to include the North South interconnector in its study”, the Independent MEP said.

“The recent decision by the European Commission, indicating substantially reduced subsidisation of wind energy production, the associated decision by the British government not to sign the proposed intergovernmental electricity export agreement, and the call for a review of national energy policy by its formulator, and former Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan, emphasised the need for a serious review of current policy”, Marian Harkin said.

She added: “Such a study could probably justify a North-South underground interconnector but, in the context of the forecast reduction in demand for electricity and the claim that there is no connection between increased windfarm production and the Grid 25 project, the €multi billion cost required by Grid 25 could be better invested in more immediate national priorities.”

Harkin will be attending next week’s conference in Athens organised by the European Commission and the Greek EU Presidency to consider the SCHENIR opinion on health issues, she said. “I will be pointing out that, as acknowledged by the compilers of the SCHENIR opinion, many important peer reviewed studies on possible adverse effects of magnetic fields associated with overhead cables were not considered in assembling the opinion”, she said.

On the health issue associated with overhead high voltage cables it was important to retain the precautionary principle and in relation to the economic issue, no pressure by EirGrid and other state bodies should be permitted to impose huge expenditure of scarce financial resources without full justification of the €3.2 billion Grid 25 project, Marian Harkin MEP concluded.