SEAT and its legal team have withdrawn from Interconnector Public Inquiry following admissions from Department and SONI that there are issues in the Environmental Statement which accompanies the application.
The Public Inquiry into the Northern Ireland section of the North-South Interconnector planning application submitted by SONI Limited, to erect a high-voltage overhead line carried on steel pylons across Armagh and Tyrone and to build an electricity substation at Turleenan, contained evidence that caused SEAT to consider its position.
It emerged that there were issues in its Environmental Statement concerning a section of the EU Regulation governing the Application relating to aspects of overriding public interest and allocation of status of highest national priority.
SEAT asked the presiding Commissioner to halt proceedings, which she refused.
SEAT then requested to delay the Inquiry to allow time for them to inform the many landowners and affected communities of the issue. This was also refused and the Inquiry continues.
Jim Lennon, Chairman of SEAT said from the Armagh City Hotel where the Inquiry is taking place: “SEAT has been left with no option but to withdraw from these proceedings and consider if any further participation is of value. At this time, we do not think so.
“We think that is unacceptable and indeed the whole basis for this application is, in our view, now fatally flawed.”
John Woods of SEAT added: “This Application has been in gestation for many years now, with a plethora of experts and consultants used by the Applicant, at huge expense to the public. There is no excuse at this 11th hour for the Application to be misleading the public on a critical component of the relevant Regulation for the interconnector.
“The Regulation in question that was misrepresented to the public is a cornerstone of the whole Application and is used by SONI throughout the Environmental Statement to promote the purported need and criticality of the project.
“It is inexcusable that the public have been misled on the relevance of parts of the Regulation to the Application.
“SEAT has spent significant time and money preparing to challenge the Application, which now turns out to be significantly compromised.
“SEAT has been left with no option but to withdraw from the Inquiry and seek further direction from all of its members.
“Our objections to these overhead pylons have a long way to run yet.” added Mr Woods.