Update provided on undergrounding of North-South interconnector

The undergrounding of the controversial EirGrid North-South interconnector is to be subject to two independent studies relating to the costs and feasibility of the project, according to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten.

The interconnector, which has already encountered considerable opposition earlier in the year, was discussed in the Dail earlier this week.

During Tuesday’s debates, Deputy Brian Stanley asked Minister Naughten when the report on the costing to the undergrounding of the proposed interconnector would be published, and if he would make a statement on the matter.

In response to this, Minister Naughten announced that he had given the green light to two examinations to be carried out on the matter.

“Following the motions calling for an updated independent study that were passed by Dail Eireann and Seanad Eireann earlier this year, I have commissioned two independent studies designed to address the main points of the motions as well as key concerns expressed by parties opposed to the development of an overhead line,” the minister said.

The first is an independent study to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the interconnector.

Elaborating on this, the minister added: “I have approved the appointment of independent experts to carry out this study and their work commenced in August. The consultants are [Swedish expert] Bo Normark, who will chair the group, Prof. Ronnie Belmans and Prof. Keith Bell.”

Giving a time-frame for completion, Minister Naughten said: “This independent expert group is expected to deliver its final report by the end of January 2018.”

On the second examination, the minister revealed: “I have also commissioned a study on the levels of compensation provided to land and property owners in proximity to high-voltage transmission lines in a European context.”

The minister confirmed that this study was also underway, with its results expected in the first quarter of next year.​