Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (396)

Sean Conlan


396. Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will include the North-South interconnector as part of the report by Ms Justice Catherine McGuinness on the best underground route options for increasing the capacity of the grid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5279/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

On 28 January last, in response to EirGrid’s recent public consultation process, I announced that I have appointed an independent panel of experts, to be chaired by Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, to decide terms of reference for comprehensive, route-specific studies of fully underground options for both Grid Link and Grid West.

Studies of the overhead and underground options will then be published side-by-side, in objective and comparable terms, before proceeding to the next stage of public consultation on those two projects. The two studies will take account of environmental (including visual amenity) impacts, technical efficacy and cost factors. The independent panel will have power to commission its own work if there is any perceived deficiency in the studies presented.

Subsequently, on 31 January 2014 I met with former Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness, chair of the expert panel.

The Taoiseach and I agreed last week that I would ask Mrs Justice McGuinness to consider what work, if any, her panel might usefully undertake to establish that there has been parity of treatment between the North South project, in terms of the work undertaken to date, and Grid Link and Grid West, in terms of the studies that are now proposed. The Chairperson said that she would discuss the issue with the expert panel to consider what, if anything, the expert panel can do. Mrs Justice McGuinness also indicated that she would be convening a meeting of the panel as early as possible.

Question No. 397 answered with Question No. 388.