Landowners ‘willing to do time’ to block North-South interconnector
The feeling at a public meeting last night in Co. Monaghan on the North-South electricity interconnector was that landowners were “willing to do time” to block the overground option going ahead.
Speaking to AgriLand, the chair of the Monaghan branch of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Frank Brady added that the impression he got from last night’s meeting was that people are “adamant that EirGrid won’t get access to land”.Also Read: North-South interconnector could descend into a ‘Shell to Sea situation’
He added that landowners would cooperate with EirGrid if the interconnector was placed underground; but, there is no public acceptance for an overground option at present.
Brady gave a commitment at the meeting that the IFA would work with landowners to find a solution.
Also present at the meeting were representatives from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), as well as a range of local politicians.
Speaking on Northern Sound radio prior to the meeting, Nigel Hillis from the Monaghan Anti-Pylon Group said: “[EirGrid] has no planning permission; they only have planning permission to erect the actual line.
“The access to land is to be by agreement with local authorities, which in our case is Monaghan County Council. I’m not sure what power Monaghan County Council has to agree any access routes with EirGrid in the absence of landowner agreement.”
On the matter, he said: “However, the long-standing practice of infrastructure providers – including in the roll-out of electricity infrastructure in Ireland – has been to seek to engage with relevant stakeholders and work for the largest possible level of engagement on projects.
“Although this consultative approach has developed over the decades through consultation and agreement, it is underpinned by the 1985 ESB-IFA code of practice for survey, construction and maintenance of overhead lines in regard to the rights of landowners.”
It follows less than a month after the infrastructure project was given planning permission in Northern Ireland. The southern element of the interconnector was given the green light in December 2016.
Minister Naughten is set to publish two reports in the first quarter of this year relating to the project.
The first is an independent study to examine the technical feasibility and cost of running the interconnector underground.
“The second study is focused, in a European context, on the levels of compensation provided to land and property owners in proximity to high-voltage transmission lines.
“Its aim is to provide a significant body of independently collated information on comparative practices in several jurisdictions. It is my intention that the two ongoing studies will provide some clarity to the concerned residents of the affected areas,” the minister said.