Northern Ireland

North-South interconnector plans upheld

pylons
Image caption The interconnector will link Turleenan, Moy in County Tyrone with Woodland in County Meath

The High Court in Dublin has upheld planning approval for the southern element of the north-south electricity interconnector.

The £200m scheme will give Northern Ireland greater access to generating capacity in the Republic.

Approval was granted in December 2016 but was challenged by the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign.

The judge said there was "no lawful reason" to overturn the planning permission.

The Utility Regulator has said the scheme is needed to ensure security of supply, particularly as some older power stations in Northern Ireland are due to be decommissioned.

The scheme will involve connecting the two power grids via 138km of overhead lines between Moy in County Tyrone and County Meath.

'Security of supply problems'

The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) held a public inquiry into the northern element of the the project in February.

The PAC is due to make a recommendation later this year.

The Northern Ireland section is being overseen by System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI).

Robin McCormick of SONI welcomed the court decision and said the inter-connector was needed to address security of supply problems facing Northern Ireland.

"This decision is encouraging and means our colleagues in EirGrid can now engage with landowners in the project area in the south," he said.

Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland Regional director, said it was a welcome development but stressed that "urgent clarity" on the northern section of the project was needed.

"We would encourage the Planning Appeals Commission and the Department for Infrastructure to reach a positive decision on the planning application as soon as possible," she said.

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