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Snippet Contents:

Before the debate was adjourned yesterday, I was expressing my total opposition to the proposed North-South interconnector. I want to refer to a meeting of the all-party transport and communications committee held last April in which I participated, with others in the constituency. At the meeting the chief executive of EirGrid confirmed that it was technically feasible to place underground the North-South interconnector using an alternative method which employed HVDC technology. Such HVDC technology is employed in the case of the east-west interconnector between Ireland and Britain, which involves undergrounding and an undersea cable. In addition, average overhead line construction costs for Grid Link projects are on a par with the average cost per kilometre for the east-west interconnector. Community groups in the path of the North-South interconnector have demonstrated that the Grid 25 review strategy document shows that the cost of undergrounding has reduced to close to 1.5 times the cost of overhead lines.
This a big climb-down from the EirGrid-commissioned report by PB Power in 2013 which estimated the cost of undergrounding to be six times as much as the cost of constructing overhead pylons. I remember that when this project was first mooted in 2007-08, it was estimated that undergrounding the transmission lines could cost 30 times as much as placing them overground. This shows how the development of technology has dramatically reduced costs in the intervening period and that there is no justification whatsoever for EirGrid even considering the overgrounding of the transmission lines.
Fianna Fáil’s energy policy, launched in 2015, outlined that grid development such as that planned with the North-South interconnector should be subject to a full economic review in the light of our reduced energy needs. Fianna Fáil has consistently maintained that undergrounding the North-South interconnector is the preferred option, with upgrading existing infrastructure.
I mentioned in the House yesterday that I had participated, with many other public representatives from north of the Border and counties Monaghan, Cavan and Meath, in the oral hearing An Bord Pleanála had organised some months ago on this planning application. Last August I submitted a detailed objection to An Bord Pleanála, with Councillor Clifford Kelly. My Oireachtas colleague, Senator Robbie Gallagher, with his then Fianna Fáil colleagues on Monaghan County Council, Seamus Coyle, Padraig McNally and P. J. O'Hanlon, made a detailed submission, having commissioned and carried out research. We objected in support of community groups and development organisations in the three counties which have been particularly active in voicing their opposition to the proposed overgrounding of the transmission lines.
It will not be acceptable for EirGrid to try to proceed with the project if it receives planning permission which I sincerely hope it will not. The transmission lines would destroy the heritage and tourism potential of that entire countryside and be disastrous for the region.