Energy Minister Eamon Ryan TD has announced that international
consultants Ecofys have been appointed by his Department
to undertake the independent study on the comparative merits
of overhead electricity transmission lines versus underground
The consultants were appointed following a tender process
launched on 29 February on the Government’s eTenders website.
The study is to be conducted on a national basis and its
purpose is to provide the best available professional advice
to the Minister on the relative merits of constructing and
operating overhead transmission lines, compared to underground
cables, having regard to technical characteristics, reliability,
operation and maintenance factors, environmental impact, possible
health issues and cost.
The planning, development and routing of transmission line
infrastructure is a matter for EirGrid, which is a wholly
State-owned company. EirGrid has responsibility for operating
the electricity transmission system in Ireland, including
the wholesale electricity trading system. It delivers connections,
transmission and market services to generators, suppliers
and customers, using the high voltage electricity system.
It is also responsible for planning the construction of high
voltage transmission lines.
In the course of EirGrid’s pre-planning public consultations
on proposed routes for the North-South and Meath-Cavan transmission
lines, concerns have been expressed locally as to the impacts
of overhead transmission lines. Noting that these concerns
are likely to be common to all transmission line projects
- and in order to provide clarity on issues in relation to
overhead versus underground transmission lines - Minister
Ryan announced that his Department would commission an independent
national study on this issue.
“The aim of the study is to provide further clarity and information
on all of the issues in relation to underground cables and
overhead lines. In so doing, we can help inform decisions
on all current and future transmission line projects” - the
In tandem with the tender process, the Department placed
advertisements in nine national newspapers requesting submissions
from the public on the issue. Over 500 submissions were received
by the closing date of 7th March. The consultants
have been furnished with these submissions and will consider
points raised, in their analysis of the merits or otherwise
of underground and overground options.
The consultants will also be available to meet with the Joint
Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural
Resources, to discuss the details of the report, once published.
It is expected that the report will be finalised by early
specialises in energy solutions. The company was contracted
by Sustainable Energy Ireland, following a competitive tender
process to provide the final report of the All Island Grid
Study in 2007.
Ecofys will also utilise the services of Golder
Associates - a global group of consulting companies
specialising in ground engineering and environmental services.
Golder has provided environmental consultancy services for
a range of electricity generation and transmission-related
projects both in Ireland and the UK.