I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 57 together.
The North South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply across the island of Ireland. A resilient and well connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic wellbeing and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers. Greater inter-connection is also necessary if we are to ensure 70% of electricity is renewable by 2030.
In December 2016 An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the project in Ireland, while in January 2018 full planning permission was granted for the section of the line that lies in Northern Ireland. Both of the planning decisions have been subject to legal proceedings in each jurisdiction. In Ireland a Supreme Court appeal of the planning permission was dismissed on 19 February 2019.
In Northern Ireland, on 8 February 2019, the Department for Infrastructure asked the High Court to quash the planning permission given so the planning application can be re-determined under new legislation introduced by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in November 2018.
There are currently a number of on-going procurements in relation to the project being undertaken and managed by ESB Networks. 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.
The earliest possible date for construction to commence is early 2020.