There is 'no alternative it's over-grounding or nothing' for the North South Interconnector project.
These were the words of Mark Foley, the Chief Executive of Eirgrid, at a meeting with Monaghan County Council yesterday.
Despite councillors providing examples of cases where it had worked, the CE categorically stated there was 'no other viable option' for the project.
EirGrid chief executive Mark Foley and chief infrastructure officer Michael Mahon yesterday briefed members of Monaghan County Council on the company's plans to transform Ireland's electricity system.
EirGrid has been asked by the Government to transform the electricity system in anticipation of a future with net zero emissions and must redevelop the grid to manage 70% of Ireland's electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030.
Part of this project is the contentious North South Interconnector which the both representatives said is crucial to creating a one system approach on the island going forward.
Councillors outlined an extensive list of questions, including questions over the awarding of contracts, the difference between this project and the Kildare Meath line, and whether Eirgrid would engage with local opposition groups before progressing.
Members were told that contracts have been signed for the design stage of the project, however, no contracts were signed for its construction.
Mr.Mahon stated that once they received the outcome of the judicial review in 8 weeks from the North they would then look to assign contractors, following which they would approach landowners.
In response to questions over the Kildare Meath line, the meeting was told the existing overhead lines in that area meant the system was strong enough to support the undergrounding, with Mr.Foley emphasising however that it was just at the limit, while in Monaghan and the surrounding areas there were weak points making it unviable.
It was also stated that there could be no re-engineering of the project as that would lead to it being 'a half job', and therefore it's an overground AC or nothing.
Sinn Féin's Brian McKenna told Eirgrid this project would inevitably cause 'civil unrest' should it proceed, and PJ O'Hanlon called for them to meet with the NEPPC and the Anti Pylon Group before any more was done.
In closing CE Mark Foley gave a promise to meet both groups next week or as soon as possible.