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Interconnector project must be reviewed after Eirgrid U-turn

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SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon has called on NIE and the Northern Ireland Executive to fundamentally review the North South Interconnector project following an announcement by Eirgrid this week that it is now considering under-grounding one of its projects, Grid West from Mayo to Roscommon.

Councillor O’Hanlon explained: “Until this week Eirgrid in the south have been using arguments that under-grounding high-powered power lines was technically impossible or could cost up to ten times the cost to deliver and now they have done a U-turn.

Eirgrid have admitted it is technically possible to underground the power lines and are actively considering it for the GridWest project from Mayo to Roscommon.

“One option now being considered includes running the cables along the edge of the roads, an argument we have been making to both NIE and Eirgrid in relation to the North South Interconnector.

“I  firmly believe this has always been technically possible, for that’s what the experts have been telling us all along but it wasn’t until An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD started feeling the wrath of the communities in his own constituency that Eirgrid even contemplated undergrounding the project.

“We now need to see the Northern Ireland Executive put the same pressure on NIE; Eirgrid and NIE are partners in delivering the North South Interconnector project and at present there is still no live planning application in the South for this project so if it’s good enough for Enda and the people of Mayo and Roscommon then it’s good enough for the people of Armagh and Tyrone.

“When this news broke last week, we saw a flurry of activity by NIE and their supporters here.  The media was flooded with messages that the lights would go out if we didn’t have an interconnector and that it must happen despite the concerns of local communities.  NIE and their supporters in government must listen to the real and genuine concerns of the local community.  If an interconnector is genuinely needed, then place it underground.  None of those planning or supporting the interconnector lives along the route, they only know how to identify it on a map from their Belfast Office and give no consideration for the communities, farming families or our tourism sector in this area.

“This project needs fundamentally reviewed and I have written again to the Energy Minister Arlene Foster MLA and to the First and Deputy First Minister highlighting my concerns and those of the communities along the route.”

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