Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Electricity Transmission Network
Question 243: To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the action he will take to ensure that EirGrid is held to account for the mistakes made in the planning process for the Meath-Tyrone powerline project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45067/10]
EirGrid applied for planning consent for the Meath Tyrone 400kV Interconnection Development Project in December 2009, under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act. An Bord Pleanála convened an oral hearing on the matter on the 10th of May 2010. On Wednesday 23rd June, it was drawn to EirGrid's and the inspector's attention that there was an error in the newspaper public notice and site notice relating to pylon height ranges for a section of the project. It is the case that full details of the correct heights of pylon heights in question were fully and accurately described in the Environmental Impact Statement and in the accompanying planning drawings, which were submitted to An Bord Pleanála.
EirGrid has undertaken a review of the circumstances which led to the error in the public notice. I have been furnished by EirGrid with a copy of this review, which also is publicly available on EirGrid's website. I have already made clear my strong disappointment that as a result of an error EirGrid had to withdraw its planning consent application for this important strategic development.
Following the review, I have asked the Board and Management of EirGrid to ensure that all appropriate control procedures are reviewed and enhanced to safeguard against errors in any part of the planning consent application, both for this project and any future projects. I accept EirGrid's assurances that it is reviewing its own internal processes and its arrangements with consultants to ensure against such errors.
The Meath-Tyrone 400 kV interconnection project is of significant strategic importance both North and South, particularly from the perspective of security of supply, competitiveness, economic growth and renewable electricity integration. I have therefore also stressed to EirGrid the importance of submitting a new planning application for this key piece of infrastructure as soon as possible, bearing in mind the very considerable complexity of the application work. EirGrid advises that most of the work and associated cost from the original planning consent application remains valid and applicable to the new planning consent application, which is assisting in expediting the process. EirGrid is working to complete the new planning application at the earliest possible date.