Public inquiry into north-south interconnector set to start
THE long-awaited public inquiry into proposals for a new north-south interconnector will begin in Armagh City Hotel this morning.
Plans for the interconnector have been dogged by controversy due to objectors who say it will be a blot on the landscape and could pose a risk to health.
But the System Operator for Northern Ireland (Soni), which runs the electricity grid, says it is imperative to ensuring the future security of the north's energy network.
The interconnector, if given the go-ahead, will see a series of overhead cables running from just north of Moy in Co Tyrone to Kingscourt in Co Cavan.
A public inquiry by the Public Appeals Commission (PAC) was first announced as far back as 2010 but it was adjourned in 2012 shortly after opening due to the plans and environmental statement not being properly advertised by previous applicant Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE).
Today's hearing represents ‘phase one' of the inquiry, and the PAC has advised that only preliminary issues will be discussed.
Considerations such as the need for and benefits of the project; as well as the technology proposed, will not be addressed at this stage.
Soni's general manager Robin McCormick welcomed the recommencement of the hearing.
He said: “The north south interconnector is a priority project and remains an urgent necessity to ensure Northern Ireland has enough electricity to meet demand in the coming years.
“The project as proposed will also allow the full implementation of the single electricity market on the island of Ireland, which should have a significant positive impact on electricity bills in Northern Ireland and the Republic."