It’s emerged there is no plan to offer homes along the Northern Ireland section of the proposed North South Interconnector the same compensation as their counterparts in the Republic.
The General Manager of SONI, the body which operates the electricity system here, told members of the Westminster NI Affairs Committee there is no equivalent of the Republic’s Community and Proximity Funds.
Eirgrid spelt out the general principles for the proximity compensation scheme in an information booklet.
“EirGrid recognises the initial visual impact of new pylons. In response to this, we created our Proximity Payment scheme. This makes a sliding scale of payments to homeowners that live within 200 m of new transmission infrastructure”
While the same document did not indicate the level of compensation, media reports suggest that homeowners living within 50m of the planned high voltage line will get a €30,000 proximity payment. This reduces to €5,000 if they are 200m away. There is another fund which compensates communities which live close to the Interconnector.
Replicating that level of compensation in Northern Ireland would cost under £2m Robin McCormick of SONI told MPs.
He said SONI had discussed the issue of compensation with the Utility Regulator and the Department for the Economy. He added that SONI was working with both bodies to see if that would be of benefit to the project.
A Public Enquiry into the 21 mile long NI section of the North South Interconnector is set to resume in a few months time.
It would be surprising if the issue of compensation for homeowners weren’t raised. If it is, it will be interesting to hear the justification for not having identical levels of compensation for identical impacts on both sides of the border.