Final north-south interconnector plans 'imminent'
A formal planning application for a new north-south electricity interconnector is imminent, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said.
The scheme links Turleenan in County Tyrone with Woodland in County Meath.
It will provide a second, high-capacity, electricity transmission line between the Republic of Ireland and NI.
Mr Kenny made the comments in the Irish parliament on Wednesday in response to a question from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.
The new connection is being jointly proposed by Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) and EirGrid in the Republic.
The Irish government is to set up an independent commission to investigate the possibility of putting some high-tension cables underground.Buried
Mr Adams asked if the proposed interconnector would be excluded from a review of EirGrid's plans to build a new network of pylons.
He said there was a groundswell of opinion in opposition to the erection of huge pylons across the Irish countryside.
Mr Adams also raised questions about the potential health implications and made it clear he thought EirGrid should only proceed if their lines could be buried under the ground.
In response, Mr Kenny said that an underground interconnector would cost nearly 800m euro (£658m) and that was 600m euro (£493m) more than an overground system.
Planning approval for the Northern Ireland part of the inter-connector has not yet been granted.
In 2012, a public inquiry was adjourned because the application and environmental statement, lodged by NIE in 2009, had not been properly advertised.