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North-South Interconnector

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (175, 176)

Brendan Smith

Question:

175. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the position regarding the review commissioned by his Department in respect of the proposed north-south interconnector project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62008/21]

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Brendan Smith

Question:

176. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the widespread concerns of communities in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath are taken into account in decisions regarding the proposed north-south interconnector project; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that local authorities, reflective of the views of local communities are very strongly of the opinion that undergrounding is the only acceptable way that this project can be delivered as outlined in correspondence to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62009/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 and 176 together.

The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island Integrated Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also facilitate the achievement of the goal to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland's economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.

The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission's report of October 2018 was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this critical electricity infrastructure.

Notwithstanding this, I decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. The terms of reference for this study were published on my Department's website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process to appoint an independent expert to undertake the review. International consultants were subsequently engaged and their work is well advanced at this stage. I expect the review will be completed shortly.

The system operators, EirGrid and ESB Networks, always seek to work in close collaboration with landowners and stakeholders in the delivery of electricity infrastructure. Both companies are engaging with those living closest to the route of the interconnector. EirGrid has already activated a variety of engagements locally, including the appointment of community liaison officers and a mobile information unit active in the area. I expect such engagements will assist in ensuring that communities are fully engaged in the delivery of the project as consented.

Question No. 176 answered with Question No. 175.
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