The Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, yesterday announced the membership of an international expert commission which will examine running part or all of the power lines underground through the route which goes through Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.
The commission’s members are chairman, Bo Normark, chief executive officer of Swedish electricity firm, Power Circle; Norwegian electricity transmission expert, Odd-Håkon Hoelsaeter and Belgian academic, Ronnie Belmans.
Mr Rabbitte said the three-member commission, which is due to report on its findings within six months, fully met the criteria of being expert, independent and international.
The Minister stressed that the commission was entirely independent, although it will receive secretarial support from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
Eirgrid argue the project is needed to facilitate the cross-border sharing of electricity and improve the efficiency of the electricity market and supply security.
The State-owned company said the 400kV interconnector would also reduce Ireland’s dependency on fossil fuels and help lower electricity bills.
Plans for the development of the €280 million interconnector collapsed last year when Eirgrid withdrew application for planning permission at a hearing by An Bord Pleanála because it contained incorrect information about the height of pylons, which was supplied by ESB International.
Under its terms of reference, the commission will review international expert literature on underground high voltage power lines.
Last night, anti-pylon group, North East Pylon Pressure welcomed the appointment of the commission.
A spokesperson said that while the commission’s members seemed to have stature, he would refrain from commenting further until they knew more about their background and experience.
He added that the group still had reservations about the commission’s terms of reference.