28 January 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Michael Fisher

The controversial plan by EirGrid for a second North/South electricity interconnector running through Monaghan, Cavan and Meath is to be examined at an oral hearing in March by An Bord Pleanála. Two senior planning inspectors have been assigned to conduct the hearing and they will shortly begin to prepare a detailed agenda.

The plan has already had a big political impact locally and is set to become an important issue in the general election campaign, widely expected to be called next month. A failure by Fine Gael to meet requests from campaigners for a meeting with the Taoiseach on the issue led to resignations from the party by two leading public representatives last month. First came long-standing Councillor Hughie McElvaney, who turned in his membership card after 41 years during a public meeting of the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee. He was followed shortly afterwards by Deputy Sean Conlan from Ballybay.

With over 900 submissions and over 1500 individual signatures, it’s expected the oral hearing will be conducted over a period of twelve weeks, beginning in early March, prior to Easter. This will make it one of the longest such enquiries ever held in the state. The intention is that a formal notice of the hearing will be sent out to all parties two weeks before it begins.

Last week the Planning Board sent out notices to those who had submitted responses to them by August last year. This included groups such as the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee and the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign, as well as a number of Monaghan politicians and parties such as Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil. Monaghan County Council also made a submission.

Most of the submissions were objections to the application submitted by EirGrid in June for an overhead 400 kV high voltage power line. It would require 400 pylons stretching from Woodland in County Meath to Turleenan near Moy in County Tyrone, crossing the border into County Armagh at Lemgare near Clontibret.

Unlike the previous oral hearing in May 2010, there will not be a preliminary hearing. Instead the Board has asked interested parties to reply to them by next Thursday, to say if they wish to make a formal oral submission. If other people not on the ….

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