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Green light call for electricity plan after appeal fails


Ann McGregor, chief executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce

Ann McGregor, chief executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce

Ann McGregor, chief executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce

A green light must now be given to a cross-border electricity scheme in Northern Ireland after opponents of the plan lost their attempt to stop the project in the Republic, business leaders have said.

The High Court in Dublin dismissed an appeal against a planning decision that gave EirGrid the green light to build a section of the North-South Interconnector on pylons over 140km of countryside from a substation in Woodland, Co Meath, to Clontibret in Co Monaghan.

Ann McGregor, NI Chamber chief executive, welcomed the decision and said "we must now receive a positive decision from the Northern Ireland planning inquiry held back in February this year".

The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) held a public inquiry into the Northern Ireland element of the scheme earlier this year.

It is due to make a recommendation later this year.

Backers of the project, which is designed to link networks as far north as Turleenan in Co Tyrone, claim joining grids on both sides of the border is vital for the island's energy market.

"While this represents an important step forward, we now need urgent clarity on the northern section of this economically vital interconnector project," Angela McGowan, CBI director in Northern Ireland, said.

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Those opposed to it claim it will have negative environmental and health impacts.

Padraig O'Reilly, of the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign, said campaigners, landowners and farmers along the route in the Republic, would fight on despite the ruling in the High Court in Dublin.

"Our initial thoughts are that we're not surprised," he said.

"We have been here a few times and we believe this has to go to the top, all the way legally. If we lost we thought we would more than likely be appealing and if they lost they would more than likely appeal."