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Anger as Republic gives go-ahead for pylon power line from Meath to Northern Ireland

Campaigners in Northern Ireland have reacted angrily to the decision by An Bord Pleanála granting permission for a massive power line planned to run between Meath and Tyrone.

Today's decision relates to the southern part of the proposed north-south interconnector which involves construction of hundreds of pylons in Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh and Tyrone - some up to 51 metres high.

A spokesperson for Safe Electricity Armagh and Tyrone (SEAT) said:  “We are disappointed at this ruling by An Bord Pleanála who have given the green light to EirGrid's plans, citing that it is the ‘most cost effective solution to satisfy current requirements’.”

 “The public inquiry for the northern element has still to be heard early in the new year, and we hope that this decision does not distract from the need to underground the interconnector.”

"We are not opposing the interconnector itself. We, along with all the landowners and affected residents on the proposed route, are however vehemently opposed to the use of a dangerous very high voltage overhead Interconnector. 

"Instead we propose undergrounding the cable to reduce health and numerous other risks - it's the responsible and efficient alternative. We must not forget that nearly 6,500 people have signed a petition opposing the high voltage Over Head Line.”

 “We are calling on the decision makers to scrutinise the need for the overhead interconnector and start to raise more questions about why we are not having an open debate about the new technologies that are being rapidly developed in other parts of the world.”

The high-voltage power line  was part of the €3.2bn Grid25 project launched in October 2008. Permission was sought in December 2009, but withdrawn the following June.

A new application was lodged with the board in June 2015, and was subject to a public hearing which lasted for almost three months. It was approved this morning.

In its decision, the board said it had regard to the benefits of integrating both electricity grids, government policy and the potential impact on the environment.

The board agreed with its inspector which recommended that permission be granted.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA)  welcomed the decision, with Chief Executive Glyn Roberts saying the interconnector would "provide security of electricity supply and reduce costs to business and domestic consumers in Northern Ireland".

National grid operator EirGrid, which is also responsible for the Northern Ireland network, has said there was just one interconnector between both jurisdictions, and if a problem occurred it would result in widespread power failures.

The line links a substation in Woodland, Co Meath with a new substation in Turleenan, Co Tyrone. It will more than double the power transfer capacity between north and south, improving efficiency and allowing more renewables onto the system.

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