Minister Naughten ‘failing to recognise reality’ on North-South Interconnecter

The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) has warned that a repeat attempt by the Minister for Communications, to seek approval for a “useless” amendment on the North-South Interconnector is failing to recognise reality.

Last week, Fianna Fail tabled a Seanad motion on the North-South Interconnector, which was similar to the party’s motion passed in the Oireachtas on February 16.

On the Seanad debate on the motion, the NEPPC has said that the counter motion/amendment proposed by Fine Gael and the subsequent statement by Minister Naughten reveal a refusal to “accept the fundamental thrust” of the Fianna Fail motion.

“NEPPC notes with great concern suggestions by the Minister to merely update a 2012 report and rush out the update as quickly as possible,” said a spokesperson.

If the Minister or the Department thinks that this will satisfy the requirements of the motion, or more importantly, the affected communities then they are gravely mistaken.

The Fianna Fail motion called on the Government to commission immediately, an independent report, incorporating international industry expertise to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector.

It also called for an evaluation of the potential impacts of both undergrounding and overgrounding the North-South Interconnector on surrounding areas, considering such aspects as its impact on local tourism, health, landscape, agriculture and heritage.

It also requested better engagement and community consultation and a demand that no further work is done on the North-South Interconnector until this analysis, and a full community consultation, is completed.

Both the Oireachtas and the Seanad have now overwhelmingly voted to request that a proper analysis of the North-South Interconnector is performed.

NEPPC is again calling for direct involvement in the terms of reference of the independent analysis and of the promised community engagement programme.

“We will be in contact with Department officials in this regard.”

The group highlighted that any apparent urgency of the project being claimed by the Government and by EirGrid should not and cannot be used as an argument for not doing the right analysis.

The fact that EirGrid has, through its “own fault”, caused “major delays” to this project, will not be tolerated by local communities as an excuse to try and force the overground option through, NEPPC said.

The Minister has now been called on to take a leadership role in avoiding this uncertainty by finding a solution that is acceptable to the affected communities.

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