I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 and 490 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. It will also help us to move towards 70% renewable electricity. 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.
As I understand the situation in Northern Ireland, in January 2018 full planning permission was granted for the section of the line that lies there. Legal proceedings were taken against the planning permission and in February 2019 the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland asked the High Court to quash the planning permission given so the planning application could be re-determined under new legislation introduced by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in November 2018. On 24 July SONI/EirGrid submitted an addendum to the Environmental Statement to the Department for Infrastructure. That Department subsequently carried out a consultation process in Northern Ireland to provide members of the public with the opportunity to review and comment on the addendum and is now reviewing the submissions received.
Since the suspension of Stormont the office of the Minister for the Economy is vacant. However my officials have regular engagement with their counterparts on a range of North South issues.