Green Party leader Eamon Ryan says he believes the controversial North-South electricity interconnector must go ahead as planned, despite the Taoiseach ordering it be reviewed.
Micheál Martin’s announcement came just a day after Mr Ryan published plans for how the project would proceed.
The plans were contained in a document published alongside the Climate Action Bill which Mr Ryan, Mr Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar jointly launched.
Opposition to the 140km interconnector that would run through Meath, Cavan and Monaghan has raged since 2008. Concerns relate mainly to the plan running high-voltage power lines through overhead pylons rather than underground cables. EirGrid has said they can not go underground.
Mr Ryan has said repeatedly the project is crucial so that the all-island network is strong enough to carry extra electricity and handle power generated in a variety of ways from many different renewable sources.
His department said the review was discussed by the party leaders, but added: “This project has already been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. The minister remains of the view that the North-South interconnector is critical. The reviews commissioned in the past have indicated the overground option is the right one and the [new] review will check if the technological and other assumptions underpinning these analyses remain valid.”
A spokesperson for Mr Martin said an independent expert would review the overground and underground options, but did not address the nature of the announcement, which came at Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party meeting last week.
Last week, Mr Martin stood with Mr Ryan to launch the Climate Bill that commits the Government to severe cuts in carbon emissions, which will entail a major increase in renewable energy.
The same day, Mr Ryan also published a set of Interim Climate Actions that specifies that engagement with landowners on the interconnector route should begin and that land surveys and procurement of construction services should be under way by the end of this year.
It says the interconnector should be completed by the end of 2025.
Politicians on the route of the interconnector welcomed Mr Martin’s announcement.
Source – The Irish Independent