New interconnector 'crucial' for economy
The CBI in Northern Ireland and its counterpart in the Republic have said the proposed North-South Interconnector is "essential" to keeping business competitive in the face of Brexit.
A planning application to build a new electricity interconnector between Co Tyrone and Co Meath is being considered by the Planning Appeals Commission in Northern Ireland after being given the green light by the Republic's planning authorities.
The island's electricity provision is already operated as a Single Electricity Market (SEM), but an interconnector is regarded as essential for future security of supply.
Now the CBI and Ibec have published a report setting out "the economic importance and urgency" behind the infrastructure. They said the report demonstrated that the interconnector would safeguard supply of electricity and keep business competitive in the face of Brexit.
CBI NI regional director Angela McGowan said: "The Single Electricity Market is an excellent example of how working in collaboration can provide tangible benefits for citizens and businesses across the island of Ireland. However, the success of all markets is underpinned by effective infrastructure. Sufficient electricity supply is essential for growing our economy, allowing local companies to thrive, and is a significant attraction for inward investors.
"The successful delivery of the proposed North-South Interconnector by 2021 will improve market efficiency, drive down costs for consumers, and guarantee Northern Ireland's future security of supply."
Danny McCoy, chief executive of Ibec, said: "As we face into the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations, we must progress the interconnector's construction with added urgency."
Opponents in the border counties where the interconnector will be built have said an underground cable should be placed instead.