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Interconnector protestors vow to continue campaign

Thursday, 31 August 2017

CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to continue their opposition to the North South Interconnector after a High Court in the Republic upheld planning approval.

Residents living along the Interconnector route - which involves connecting two power grids via 138km of overhead lines between Moy in County Tyrone and County Meath - had joined forces with the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign to oppose the £200m scheme.

The group, which calls for electricity pylons to be placed underground challenged a decision to approve the scheme last December.

But a High Court in Dublin rejected the challenge last week.

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

The court ruling means that planning approval - which was granted by the Re public's planning body An Bord PleanŠla for the southern element of the North-South Interconnector - has been upheld.

Developers behind the project say it will give Northern Ireland greater access to generating capacity in the Republic.

Meanwhile, a recommendation on the northern element of the scheme is expected to be reached by the Planning Appeals Commission later this year, after it held a public inquiry earlier this year.

The Dublin court ruling has been welcomed by SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland), the organisation overseeing the northern aspect of the project.

Robin McCormick of SONI said: "This decision is encouraging and means our colleagues in EirGrid can now engage with landowners in the project area in the south." The outcome, however, has been described as "disappointing" by Newry and Armagh MLA, Justin McNulty.

He explained; "The proposal for the North South Interconnector through some of the most beautiful and historic parts of this island is unacceptable. The communities who live along the proposed line are rightly angry and opposed to the development.

"However, they are not against interconnection, they simply want the Interconnector to be undergrounded.

"The ruling by the High Court in Dublin is extremely disappointing. Residents living along the route sought to overturn the original approval by An Bord PleanŠla.

"They have now said they will appeal the decision. In this jurisdiction, the public inquiry has been held and it has yet to report. However, the feeling is equally as strong across rural Armagh in its opposition.

This is a beautiful area of our countryside and every impacted landowner along the route has voiced and confirmed their opposition to the project.

"They don't want to see their land divided by this power line, nor do they want to see the countryside scarred by hundreds of ugly pylons.

"This fight will go on, both north and south.

"Local communities will continue to oppose the project and I will continue to support their campaign."

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