This inquiry concerned two planning applications by SONI Ltd (the electricity transmission system operator for Northern Ireland) for the Northern Ireland section of the proposed Tyrone-Cavan Electricity Interconnector, a substantial electricity infrastructure project including a new substation and a 400Kv overhead transmission line connecting the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The inquiry previously adjourned upon opening in 2012 due to the PAC’s concerns about the adequacy of advertising for the first application and its accompanying environmental statement. A parallel application for the Republic of Ireland section of the project was the subject of hearings before the An Bord Pleaná in spring 2016.
The first stage of the inquiry considered legal issues relating, amongst other things, to environmental assessment and proposed amendments to the first application. The PAC is to report on those issues and the Department for Infrastructure will determine them. If the Department indicates that it is satisfied that the applications can proceed to a substantive inquiry, the PAC will convene a second stage of the inquiry which will consider the merits of the applications.
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Scott Lyness appeared for SONI Limited (with William Orbinson QC), instructed by Carson McDowell LLP.
Charles Banner appeared for the Department for Infrastructure, instructed by the Departmental Solicitor.