The construction of the North South Interconnector – and all related procurement activities – is an operational matter for EirGrid and ESB Networks and one in which the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has no function.
Also, there will be no design, test and supply of steelworks in respect of the project until the planning process in Northern Ireland is complete.
These were the sentiments expressed by Minister Richard Bruton during Dáil proceedings last week when he was asked by Fianna Fáil’s deputy Brendan Smith if EirGrid needed ministerial approval to commence the procurement process for the proposed North South Interconnector.
Smith also asked the minister if EirGrid or ESB Networks were awarded the contract for design, test and supply of pylons for the proposed North South Interconnector for both the section of the line here and in Northern Ireland.
‘Approval from regulators’
The minister said that EirGrid is the designated Transmission System Operator (TSO) and its role includes the operation, maintenance and development of the electricity transmission network in Ireland.
EirGrid did not require ministerial approval to commence the procurement process for the North South Interconnector.
He continued: “I am advised that due to the very long lead times that can arise in relation to projects of this nature, and the benefits of a single joint procurement process to be undertaken and managed by ESB Networks, EirGrid sought approval from the regulators in Ireland and Northern Ireland to commence procurement.
Following this approval, in September 2017 ESB Networks commenced a number of procurement processes in relation to the project.
“In June 2019, ESB Networks awarded a framework contract for the design, test and supply of steelworks in relation to the project; however, under this framework there will be no supply of materials until the planning process in Northern Ireland is complete.”
“This proposed line would run through counties Monaghan, Cavan and Meath in Ireland, and Armagh and Tyrone in Northern Ireland,” a spokesperson concluded.