Further significant changes by EirGrid 8 weeks into
Oral Hearing make a mockery of the planning process
NEPPC calls for An Bord Pleanála to put an end to ‘this costly charade’
On the 22nd March, during week 3 of the Oral hearing into the North-South Interconnector application EirGrid announced a number of major flaws in its planning application and made a request to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) to change 19 access entrances and routes to landowner properties. The landowners had neither been notified of nor consulted on these plans at this stage. EirGrid conceded that all landowners needed to be notified.
This week, on Tuesday 26th April, during week 8 of the Oral Hearing, EirGrid yet again announced, without any prior notice, a further request to ABP to change an additional 18 access routes and also make 22 ‘minor deviations’ to access route maps. The affected landowners, similar to the situation pertaining on the 22nd March, had neither been notified of nor consulted on these plans at this stage. EirGrid again conceded that all landowners needed to be notified.
Based on the extraordinary revelations at the hearing on 22nd March the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign requested the Senior Inspectors to seek approval from the Board that the hearing be halted. The Senior Inspectors instead decided to continue with the hearing. NEPPC wrote to the Board directly, requesting that at least the access route changes and other errata in the planning application be updated on the planning application website, but has still not received any response.
These latest changes, announced at 5pm on Tuesday evening, just prior to the conclusion of the oral hearing for this week, makes a mockery of the oral hearing and of the ABP process itself. NEPPC is calling on ABP to halt this oral hearing and take responsibility for not allowing the public’s time and money to be wasted by EirGrid’s farcical activities.
“EirGrid is being allowed to make wholesale changes to its planning application on an ongoing basis, without so much as a query from ABP. It looks like EirGrid is running the show all by itself. In the latest letter received by landowners yesterday, where they have been informed of changes to accessing their lands, EirGrid states in relation to the ongoing Oral hearing that “We will of course facilitate any submission you may wish to make arising from this modified access route”. The official position from ABP is that anyone who wanted to make a submission to the oral hearing had firstly to have made a written submission by August 24th 2015 and then submit a request to make an oral submission by February 4th 2016. Yet here we now have EirGrid writing to landowners as if it is representing An Bord Pleanála (ABP) and making up its own rules for the Oral Hearing participation. ABP needs to quickly get a grip here before the whole integrity of the process in general is destroyed. It is simply not acceptable to sit on its hands and watch EirGrid take this brazen approach”
“NEPPC is yet again calling on our elected representatives to put an end to this farcical situation. EirGrid is making a mockery of the strategic infrastructure process for a second time in five years. We cannot have a situation where a state company can remain immune to accountability and in so doing drain public confidence and bring the strategic infrastructure process into disrepute”.