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Minister Mallon to be given official steer on North-South Interconnector 'within weeks'

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Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon

PA

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is due to receive a recommendation over the next few weeks on whether she should give the go-ahead to the North-South Interconnector.

Writing in today's Business Telegraph, Jo Aston, chief executive of SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland), which operates the electricity transmission network, said a decision on the controversial interconnector is "overdue and urgent".

The project, which involves building new overhead pylons between the border and Co Meath, has already been given the go-ahead in the Republic.

Planning approval for the project had been granted by civil servants in the Department for Infrastructure, but their decision was quashed at the High Court last year.

The Northern Ireland side of the scheme, involving a 34km overhead power line on 102 towers stretching from Moy in Co Tyrone to the south Armagh border, is being managed by SONI. EirGrid is managing the southern end, which connects the line across Monaghan, Cavan and Meath.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said: "Officials continue to progress this application as promptly as possible.

"It is expected that a recommendation will be made to the minister for her consideration in the coming weeks."

SONI's proposal was originally approved by the DfI in January 2018 in the absence of a minister. It followed a public inquiry and a report published by the Planning Appeals Commission.

The project has been controversial with landowners in Tyrone and Armagh, with more than 6,000 letters of objection lodged.

Belfast Telegraph