A Fianna Fail motion requiring an independent analysis of Eirgrid's North South Interconnector project has just been passed in the Dail.
The Government lost a vote on an amendment on the motion in the Dáil this afternoon by 76 votes to 60.
Fianna Fáil wants an examination on the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the project, taking into account the developments in technology since it was originally proposed.
It also wants a fresh study on "the potential impacts of both undergrounding and over grounding the NSIC on surrounding areas, considering such aspects as its impact on local tourism, health, landscape, agriculture and heritage".
Deputy Shane Cassells says the Government now needs to commence an independent review of the North – South Interconnector.
He was extremely critical of the attempt by government to water down the motion, labeling it "an appalling move", which would have removed the need for an independent review of the feasibility and cost of the underground.
“Fianna Fáil has long maintained that the Governments approach to the North – South Interconnector simply isn’t good enough. They have attempted to push through this plan without taking on board some of the serious concerns that local communities along the interconnector route have regarding the project.
"Now in their attempt to amend this motion they did not even want to recognise the negative impacts that an overground interconnector will have on the 2,500 impacted homes or the landscape of these areas," remarked Deputy Cassells.
“The North South Interconnector is a crucial energy infrastructure project for the island of Ireland, but that does not mean that local people, and local concerns, can be willfully ignored.
"Fianna Fáil has been consistent in its calls for the undergrounding of this project and the most recent evidence reveals that it actually strengthens the grid and improves reliability. The financial analysis of underground versus over ground needs further investigation.
“The motion we put before the Dáil requires the Government to undertake an independent analysis of the project. We feel that greater consideration needs to be given to the idea of undergrounding the project.
"Eirgrid have argued that this is not technically feasible, but they are relying on information which is well outdated. The latest information we have to hand shows that the project can, and should, proceed on the basis that the electricity line will be placed underground.
“Dáil Éireann has sent a clear signal that it supports Fianna Fáil’s move to secure an independent assessment of this project. The Government now needs to commence such an assessment without delay,” said Deputy Cassells.