NATIONAL ELECTRICITY grid operator, Eirgrid, said yesterday that it has narrowed down the potential routes for the €180 million link between Meath and Tyrone.
The State agency is planning to build high-voltage power lines between the two counties. The development will be part of the national grid, the core of the electricity distribution network.
Yesterday, Eirgrid said it had chosen “candidate” routes for the project. The first connects with the Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) network east of Clontibret, Co Monaghan. It then runs south-east around Lough Egish and Shantonagh Lough and on to Kingscourt, Co Cavan.
The second line will run from Woodland, Co Meath, skirting around Trim and Tara, to Kilmainhamwood. Eirgrid said yesterday the routes will be subject to further studies, and added that no decision will be made until these are completed.
Tomás Mahony, EirGrid senior project engineer, said that to get to this point, the agency carried out feasibility studies of each route. “These line routes will now be taken forward to the next phase of project development, involving discussions with landowners as a priority, further studies and stakeholder engagement,” he said.
The north-east link is a key part of development of the national grid, according to Eirgrid. The connection is needed to guarantee power supplies to the northeast and to boost interconnection between the Republic and the North, which now have a common electricity market.
Eirgrid intends running the 400 kilovolt (KV) lines over 70km on overhead pylons. A local organisation, the North East Pylon Pressure group, wants the agency to place them underground, and has suggested a disused railway line as a possible route.
A study jointly commissioned by Eirgrid and NIE from Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB Power) and published in February found that the extra cost involved in running the lines underground could be as much as €500 million.
It pointed out that there are no underground power lines of the same length and capacity anywhere in the world.