EirGrid seeking feedback on East Meath/North Dublin grid route option

EirGrid, the national electricity grid operator, has launched an eight-week awareness campaign for the East Meath-North Dublin Grid Upgrade.

A consultation seeking feedback from all stakeholders on potential route options for the underground cable, will be held later this year.

Following a previous consultation process the company announced that the upgrade would consist of a 400kV underground cable circuit from Woodland substation in county Meath to Belcamp substation in north Dublin.

According to EirGrid the project will improve the electricity grid in the east of the country by adding a high-capacity connection.

“This project is needed to address increased electricity demand in the region and, importantly, the upgrade will also aid in achieving our renewable targets,” said EirGrid’s Chief Infrastructure Officer, Michael Mahon.

To keep communities informed of the latest updates on the project, an awareness campaign will take place throughout May and June.

The campaign will include information days where EirGrid team members will be available at locations in the project area, along with public webinars where people can hear about project developments to date.

A community forum will be established in the coming months and will act as a consultative body during the project. Members will meet regularly, and the forum will include representatives of communities and public representatives.

The upgrade is a response to increased electricity demand in the greater Dublin area, whilst reducing the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation in the capital.

“The project will also strengthen the network in anticipation of the future development of renewable energy, onshore and offshore, growing housing demand and electrification of transport,” said Mr Mahon.

A list of seven technical options for the project were compiled, with overhead and underground options assessed under a multi-criteria evaluation process and a consultation was held on these in 2020. In 2021, feasibility studies were carried out on the four best-performing options; a Woodland to Finglas 400 kV overhead line; a Woodland to Finglas 400 kV underground cable; a Woodland to Belcamp 400 kV overhead line and a Woodland to Belcamp 400 kV underground cable.

These studies, finalised in March this year, assessed each option against a number of criteria, including technical, deliverability, environmental, socio-economic and economic performance.

The results identified a number of constraints, including spatial, operational and environmental. As a result, three of the four options involved were not progressed further.

A spokesperson for the North East Pylon Pressure said the Meath Dublin link commences in Woodlands near Dunboyne, the site for the start of the proposed North South Interconnector (NSI).

"EirGrid has decided that the Meath-Kildare line needs to be undergrounded, on the basis of specific selection criteria, including ‘economics’ ‘deliverability’ and ‘socio-economic impacts.

"In other words the underground option was chosen because it is the most cost effective, an overhead line would be impossible to deliver and the socio-economic impacts of an overhead line would be unacceptable to the public.

"This is all familiar territory in terms of arguments against the NSI.

"The NSI will be more cost effective underground rather than overhead. The NSI as an overhead line is clearly undeliverable as a project. It has been 17 years since conception and still no progress. "And the socio-economic impacts have been accepted as significantly permanently adverse.

"What does it take for the company to learn that without the will of the people the project is dead in the water."