EIRGRID HAS initiated a court action to overturn a ban by Monaghan County Council on the location, as part of a €184 million cross-Border energy sharing project, of high-voltage overhead power lines close to schools, workplaces and homes.
Eirgrid is seeking leave to bring a judicial review challenge to the council’s decision of January 5th last to vary the Monaghan County Development Plan so as to prevent the location of high-density overhead power lines in excess of 220kv within 100m of any house, school, sports field or place of work.
The council said its reasons were to protect the Drumlin landscape of Co Monaghan and to ensure the lines did not impact negatively on people’s homes, workplaces or places of leisure.
Eirgrid claims the first reason cannot be achieved by the variation while the second is “unreasonably broad”.
It also alleges the council failed to have regard to advice from the county manager stating the variation was contrary to relevant national plans and and would frustrate Government policy.
Eirgrid also claims the council breached fair procedures and/or erred in law in not making available to either Eirgrid or the public submissions to the council from the North East Pylon Pressure (NEPP) group arguing that the power lines should be placed underground.
Eirgrid’s application was admitted to the Commercial Court yesterday by Mr Justice Peter Kelly and adjourned so certain parties, including the pylon pressure group, may be notified of the proceedings.
The case arises over two projects planned by Eirgrid.
The first involves erection of an 80km-long 400kv connection line between Cavan and Tyrone, 35km of which will pass through Co Monaghan, while the second involves erection of a 58km, 400kv connection between Woodland, Co Meath and Kingscourt, Co Cavan.
Eirgrid is seeking planning approval for both projects directly from An Bord Pleanála under the Planning and Development Act 2006.
Both the council and the NEPP have criticised as anti-democratic the provision of the 2006 Act allowing for such direct planning applications.
As the Cavan-Tyrone line project involves an overhead line of more than 222kv, that project will constitute a material contravention of the Monaghan Development Plan if the council’s ban is not overturned, Eirgrid claims.
That was likely to have a negative effect on the planning application, it said.
The Cavan-Tyrone interconnector project will cost some €184 million and about €2.7 million has been spent on it to date, Eirgrid added. If An Bord Pleanála refused permission based on the council’s decision, this would have “serious consequences” for the development of the electricity transmission system in Ireland.
The project would also facilitate government policy as it would contribute to the target of achieving 40 per cent of electricity to be generated from renewables, Eirgrid said.