North-South interconnector given the green light

News that the North-South electricity interconnector has received planning permission in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by Ibec – the group that represents Irish business.

Commenting on the development, the head of infrastructure at Ibec – Dr. Neil Walker – said: “This is a major milestone in what is arguably the single most urgent infrastructure project on the island of Ireland.

With planning consent now granted on each side of the border, it is time for the entire project to move forward without further delay.

“A study last year jointly commissioned by Ibec and CBI Northern Ireland found that improved grid interconnection would reduce energy costs for businesses and households across the island. Ibec believes that this project will improve the all-island economy.

“Any further delays to the project would impact on security of electricity supply, particularly for the north-east region. It could also hinder the achievement of EU clean energy targets,” he said.

Also Read: 400 landowners will be affected as planning granted for North/South Interconnector

Meanwhile, the approval from the Department for Infrastructure (DFI) in Northern Ireland comes after a positive recommendation from the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC), according to EirGrid.

PAC reviewed the planning applications and carried out a public inquiry into the project; held in Armagh in February 2017, it added.

Planning permission for the southern element of the interconnector was granted by An Bord Pleanala in December 2016. This decision has been upheld in the High Court following a number of legal challenges – with the final judicial review concluding in January 2018, EirGrid explained.

‘Working with landowners will remain a priority’

Working with landowners and the community will remain a priority going forward, according to director of Grid Development and Interconnection at EirGrid John Fitzgerald.

“We very much welcome this positive outcome from the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure.

The North-South interconnector is undoubtedly the most important infrastructure scheme on the island today and will deliver very real benefits to domestic and commercial consumers across the country.

“The project has received strong support from businesses and employers because of the positive impact it will have on the economy, and from consumer groups – as it will help reduce the cost of electricity.

“It will also provide local advantages in the north-east by strengthening the electricity network in the region; a catalyst for inward investment and job creation.

“While we recognise this project is to the benefit of everyone, we will continue to work to ensure that it is delivered at the least possible impact to the communities and landowners who are hosting it.

“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.