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Power line link inquiry reopens in Northern Ireland

Words: Roger Milne
Overhead powerlines / Shutterstock

A public inquiry into proposals for the Northern Ireland section of a major £204 million cross-border energy project resumed this week.

The controversial so-called north-south interconnector scheme is designed to connect the two electricity grids in the Province and the Republic, with some 138 km of overhead power lines between Moy in County Tyrone and County Meath.

The inquiry - run by the Planning Appeals Commission – is starting up again after a four-year delay.

It opened in 2012, but was adjourned when it emerged that the planning application and environmental statement had not been properly advertised.

In the Republic of Ireland, the state-owned commercial energy company EirGrid has submitted plans for the southern half of the project. In Northern Ireland, the lead is being taken by System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI).

EirGrid's director of operations, planning and innovation, Robin McCormick said: "The project is an urgent necessity to ensure Northern Ireland has enough electricity to meet demand in the coming years.

"We welcome the recommencement of the public inquiry as we continue to work towards a planning decision for the project," he said.

A final decision on the Northern Ireland planning application will rest with infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard.

Twelve weeks of hearings have already taken place in the Republic of Ireland on the southern stretch of the project with a decision due from An Bord Pleanála (the Planning Board) later this year.

Image credit | Shutterstock