Please see below my full statement to the Meath Chronicle this week on Eirgrid:
“The North South Interconnector is a contentious issue. There has been much local concern surrounding the use of pylons in areas like Kilmessan, Bective, Dunderry and my own parish of Bohermeen.
In opposition or Government, I have maintained that the winning of the undergrounding argument is to prove it is the best use, and long-term value, of taxpayer’s money to do so.
Since Fianna Fáil gave the green light to the North South Interconnector in 2007 I questioned the cost of undergrounding that Eirgrid put forward, and the assertion it has to be done solely with pylons.
I have repeatedly called for international exerts, independent of Eirgrid, to assess the North South project and compare it a similar project internationally; as each of the planned grid projects in Ireland are so different. The high voltage underground interconnector between Belgium and Germany, ALEGrO, is one such project internationally that I am aware of.
Both the technology available and the costs associated with that technology have changed and improved over the years. These changes have demanded further study. As a result, Minister Denis Naughten agreed to commission an independent study to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the North South Interconnector.
This is due out in the near future. I hope it provides the evidence that undergrounding is both a technically feasible and cost-effective option for the North South Interconnector.
Some in Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have put forward a simplistic view that the project can be undergrounded at the whim of the Government. If this is the case, why then did Fianna Fáil sanction the use of pylons in the first place for the North South Interconnector and hold this view for years in Government? Why did Sinn Féin, a party in a power sharing Government for the first ten years of this project fail to stop the use of pylons for the Northern Ireland section of this project?
Coming from Bohermeen I am biased against the use of pylons. But this will not win the argument to put them underground. Evidence and facts will win the case. A reasonable person would accept we should do all we can to avoid the use of pylons if possible. That is my job as a local TD; to do all I can to avoid using them. I will continue in my work to prove we can avoid their use”