I thank the Deputy. The North-South interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island single electricity market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also help Ireland to move towards our target of up to 80% renewable electricity 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, a further short review was commissioned to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. Terms of reference for this study were published on my Department's website on 21 April. On 7 May, the Department initiated a procurement process to appoint an independent expert to undertake the review. International consultants are now engaged on the review and their work is well advanced. I understand the review will be completed by the end of the year.
A judicial review decision from the High Court in Belfast upheld the planning permission for the project in Northern Ireland, which means that the project now has approval from the planning authorities in both jurisdictions, with all legal challenges dismissed. EirGrid and ESB Networks, together with their counterparts in Northern Ireland, are continuing their on-the-ground engagements with landowners as well as the procurements necessary to support the delivery of this vitally important piece of infrastructure.