A public inquiry is to be held into controversial plans for an overhead electricity interconnector across the Irish border, it was announced today.
Environment minister Edwin Poots has asked the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) to investigate the northern section of the proposed 160km stretch of pylons carrying the line through border counties Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan, Meath and Cavan.
The move to improve supply flow throughout the island has been opposed by people who live near the preferred route of the 400kV interconnector.
They claim it would have an adverse impact on their health and have demanded that the line is put underground.
However, Northern Ireland Electricity, which has lodged the planning application for the northern section of the line, insists the underground option is too expensive.
Poots said: “This proposal raises a number of issues which need further exploration. This includes the impact on public health and the consideration of alternative technologies such as underground cabling.
“I have given the application careful consideration and I have considered the options open to me through the Article 31 process. In this case, I am of the opinion that the best way forward is to deal with the application through the public local inquiry process.”
Public hearings over the Republic of Ireland side of the line were held earlier this summer.