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Planning Issues

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 8 July 2010

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Questions (561)

Liz McManus


563 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the recent error in the application for planning permission for the North-South interconnector; if he has received information from Eirgrid on the length of time it will take to resubmit the application; when does he envisage the process coming to a full conclusion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31160/10]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources)

EirGrid applied for planning consent for the 400kV Meath-Tyrone Interconnection Development Project in December 2009, under the Planning and Development Act 2000 as inserted by the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.

An Bord Pleanála convened an oral hearing on the matter on Monday 10th May 2010. On Thursday 24th June, it was drawn to EirGrid's and the Inspector's attention that there was an error in the newspaper public notice and site notice relating to pylon height ranges for a section of the project. It is the case that full details of the correct heights of the towers concerned were fully described in the Environmental Impact Statement and in the accompanying planning drawings which were submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

Following consultation with its legal advisers EirGrid was advised that under the applicable legislation, there is no mechanism to correct the error within the context of the application. EirGrid therefore notified An Bord Pleanála on Tuesday 29th June, of the withdrawal of its application for the Meath-Tyrone 400 kV Interconnection Development Project.

The Meath-Tyrone interconnection project is of significant strategic importance from an all-island electricity market perspective, and from the perspectives, both North and South, of security of supply, competitiveness, economic growth and renewable electricity integration. I have already made clear my strong disappointment that EirGrid has had to withdraw its planning consent application for this important development. EirGrid is undertaking a full review of the circumstances which led to the error in the public notice and I have asked to be fully informed of the findings of this review.

It is estimated that the total costs incurred by EirGrid on this project since 2006 are approximately €8 million. These costs include work on key project milestones such as project definition, environmental studies, surveys, consultation, route section, technical design, reports, analysis, production of an Environmental Impact Statement and the submission of an application for planning consent. EirGrid advises that most of this work remains valid and applicable to the new planning consent application and that the new application will largely reflect the original application.

While I have no operational role in respect of transmission development or planning, I fully expect EirGrid to work assiduously and quickly to prepare a new planning consent application, with a view to avoiding any further delays in progressing this important project. EirGrid has indicated that it will submit a new application as quickly as possible. Once the updated application is submitted, it is a matter for the relevant planning authority, in this case An Bord Pleanála, to bring the process to its conclusion, and I cannot prejudge the outcome of the process.