Landowners willing to block access routes to stall interconnector project

Landowners affected by the North-South electricity interconnector are prepared to block access routes to stall the infrastructure project, according to Nigel Hillis from the Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee.

Speaking on Northern Sound FM, Hillis outlined that he wasn’t surprised by the decision in Northern Ireland to grant planning permission for the project – given that the decision was taken without a minister or the executive in Stormont in place.

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“The decision was made by civil servants and there is no political accountability in Northern Ireland for this decision.

“With regards to full planning permission being granted on both sides of the border; it changes nothing, as far as landowners are concerned.

Because, there is zero public and landowner acceptance for the pylons. The landowners are totally resolute, as was proven by our huge meeting last November, that EirGrid will not gain access to their lands to erect a single pylon.

“That remains the position and will remain the position,” he said.

Hillis was adamant that landowners would oppose the construction of the pylons.

“We don’t see how it can go full steam ahead on the ground when they can’t get access to people’s land. In the planning permission that they got down here, they don’t have planning permission for the access routes.

“They said they never looked for planning for the access routes; that they were going to negotiate that with the landowners – but, the landowners won’t negotiate anything with them.

It’s going to be a stand-off situation; time will tell how that turns out.

“97% of the landowners that we represent are steadfast at this moment in time to resist this to the fullness of their ability. If that means blocking the access routes and not allowing EirGrid access, then – as far as I can see – that’s what is going to happen,” he concluded.

Commenting yesterday – after the planning permission approval was granted in Northern Ireland – director of Grid Development and Interconnection at EirGrid John Fitzgerald explained that working with landowners and the community will remain a priority going forward.

“In the coming months, we will hand over the project to ESB Networks who will construct the interconnector; in the meantime, we will be on the ground engaging with landowners and the community, ensuring they remain up-to-date on progress and timelines,” he concluded.