Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (757, 758, 768)

Brendan Smith

Question:

757. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he or the Minister of State in his Department has responsibility for the proposed North-South interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30979/19]

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Brendan Smith

Question:

758. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if EirGrid needed ministerial approval to commence the procurement process for the proposed North-South interconnector; if so, when approval issued; the conditions attached to such approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30980/19]

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Brendan Smith

Question:

768. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if EirGrid or ESB Networks has awarded the contract for design, test and supply of pylons and all related materials for the proposed North-South interconnector for both the section of the line here and in Northern Ireland; if so, when this contract was awarded; the basis on which this use of taxpayers’ moneys can be justified when the project has not received full planning approval; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that ministerial statements were made in Dáil Éireann that no critical contracts would be awarded prior to full approval of the project in Northern Ireland; his views on the fact that design, test and supply are absolutely critical components of a procurement process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31190/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 757, 758 and 768 together.

EirGrid is the designated Transmission System Operator and its role includes the operation, maintenance and development of the electricity transmission network in Ireland. The construction of the North South Interconnector, and all related procurement activities, is an operational matter for EirGrid and ESB Networks and one in which I or the Minister of State have no function.

EirGrid therefore did not require Ministerial approval to commence the procurement process for the North South Interconnector.

I am advised that due to the very long lead times that can arise in relation to projects of this nature and the benefits of a single joint procurement process to be undertaken and managed by ESB Networks, EirGrid sought approval from the regulators in Ireland and Northern Ireland to commence procurement. Following this approval, in September 2017 ESB Networks commenced a number of procurement processes in relation to the project.

In June 2019 ESB Networks awarded a framework contract for the design, test and supply of steelwork in relation to the project. However under this framework there will be no supply of materials until the planning process in Northern Ireland is complete.