A European project has proven that the North-South Interconnector can and must go underground, according to Sinn Fein MEP, Matt Carthy.
Speaking on EuroParlRadio, Carthy outlined that the Irish project must follow the lead taken by Belgian company Elia – who are in charge of constructing an interconnector between Belgium and Germany.
“Last week, I was very happy to be able to welcome a delegation from Ireland that consisted of a lot of the campaign organisations [against the North-South Interconnector].
“They’re basically the spokespersons for communities right across the five counties of the proposed North-South Interconnector, who have huge and genuine concerns about EirGrid’s proposals to develop high-voltage power lines via pylon-supported structures – which would effectively rip through the heart of those counties.
People right across those counties, including almost every elected representative that I am aware of, have argued that the project should be underground.
“EirGrid have said that it’s not possible or feasible that such an option would be taken,” he said.
During the Irish delegation’s visit in Belgium, the group met with the Belgian equivalent of EirGrid – which is a company called Elia.
Elia intends to commence construction early next year on a interconnector between Belgium and Germany – a project that shares some similar attributes as the one proposed here on the island of Ireland, Carthy explained.
“There is one fundamental difference. That difference is that it is going underground – so it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that it is absolutely possible, feasible and the economically sound option that the North-South Interconnector should be [put] underground.
“When we met with EirGrid, the European Commission and Irish government representatives at a hearing in the European Parliament last week, we outlined to them very clearly and very starkly that the criteria that Elia use to determine what technology it uses to proceed with these type of interconnection projects is very similar to the criteria that EirGrid uses.
Except in the case of Elia, at the very top of its list is the criteria of public acceptance.
“Public acceptance doesn’t make the EirGrid criteria at all, and to me that is the fundamental criteria why the Elia project between Belgium and Germany is going underground and why EirGrid are insisting that they will construct high-voltage, pylon-supported powerlines through the heart of five counties,” the MEP added.
This is despite the fact that the vast majority of people in those counties are arguing for an underground option, he said.
Concluding, Carthy said: “To me the real issue at stake here is whether the Irish government is actually going to defend the communities and citizens of Ireland, by ensuring that the North-South Interconnector proceeds along the same basis as the Belgium-Germany Interconnector via an underground option.”