Belfast Telegraph

Blunder forces Eirgrid back to drawing board

Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A mistake about the height of electricity pylons has forced an Irish energy company to withdraw its planning application for a north/south interconnector.

Eirgrid's application said the maximum pylon height of the Meath-Tyrone interconnector would be 37 metres - but it emerged at a public meeting in Monaghan last week that some of the pylons could be 44 metres high.

Yesterday the company said it had "no option" but to write to the Republic's planning board to notify it of the withdrawal of the application. It said there was no mechanism for amending the existing application to tidy up the "inadvertent error" but that it will make a fresh application.

The interconnector was proposed to develop a more efficient all-island electricity market while upgrading existing infrastructure to make it easier to transfer power to consumers. It is also set to support forms of renewable energy.

Eirgrid said: "The decision to withdraw the application was made after careful consideration and with regret by Eirgrid, given the vital nature of the project

"The project was the subject of an extensive public consultation and information process before and after the lodging of planning permission last December.

"Eirgrid remains committed to the development of this project, which is vital for the region and for consumers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland."

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Northern Ireland Electricity, which is developing the Northern Ireland dimension of the project, has submitted a planning application for a new substation near Moy in Co Tyrone and 34km of overhead transmission line from the substation to a crossing point on the border.

NIE said the proposal was still being considered by planners.

"This process is not affected by EirGrid's decision to withdraw their planning application in the Republic of Ireland," a spokeswoman said. "The proposed Tyrone to Cavan Interconnector still remains a critical cross border electricity infrastructure project."

NIE said the second interconnector would meet strategic energy needs and develop a more efficient all-island electricity market for consumers on both sides of the border.