North South Interconnector

This project proposes the addition of a new 400 kV overhead line to our grid, connecting the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is also known in Northern Ireland as the Tyrone to Cavan Interconnector. When built, the project will start at a substation in Turleenan, Co Tyrone. It will then run into Co Armagh and then into counties Monaghan, Cavan and Meath.

The Tyrone to Cavan Interconnector (also known as the North South Interconnector) will start at a substation in Turleenan, Co Tyrone. It will then run into Co Armagh and then into counties Monaghan, Cavan and Meath. It will connect the electricity grids in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

At first, Northern Ireland Electricity (now NIE Networks) was responsible for securing planning consent. Due to European laws, that responsibility transferred to SONI in April 2014.

This is a significant project for SONI and for everyone on the island. It will allow for cheaper electricity generation and will improve the reliability and security of your electricity supply. 

In January 2018, SONI secured planning approval for the new overhead line. The Department for Infrastructure's decision to grant planning permission followed the publication of a report and recommendation by the PAC in November 2017. The PAC based its report on proposals which came out of its Public Inquiry into planning applications for the project in early 2017.

On 08 February 2019, the Department for Infrastructure conceded to a legal challenge against the planning permission. This challenge argued that planning approval could not be granted in the absence of an Infrastructure Minister.

However, in November 2018, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland introduced new legislation. This gives Permanent Secretaries across the NI Civil Service the right to make key decisions during the period in which there is no Stormont Executive in place. 

Given this, we are hopeful that the DFI will re-approve the planning application for the North South Interconnector.

The southern element of the project has planning permission following a decision by An Bord Pleanála in December 2016. The project has now cleared all legal and planning hurdles in the Republic of Ireland. Read more here

This project has been awarded Project of Common Interest (PCI) status by the European Commission. Click here to find out more about PCI status and the European Commission. 

Why is this project needed?

The electricity transmission network operates on an all-island basis. However, there is currently only one interconnector linking both jurisdictions. This restricts the amount of electricity that can flow from north to south and vice versa, creating a bottleneck that adds costs to our bills.

The second North South Interconnector will remove this constraint and allow the all-island network to operate much more efficiently. This will have a positive impact on electricity prices and will create significant savings for consumers everywhere.

The proposed North South Interconnector is also urgently required to make sure we have access to enough electricity to meet supply in Northern Ireland in the coming years. As things stand, the decommissioning of older electricity generating stations means that after 2021 demand will outstrip supply. Having the Interconnector in place will avoid this scenario and make sure we have the long-term security of electricity supply we need.

What are the benefits of this project?

The North South Interconnector will reduce the cost of electricity and will save consumers money by allowing the transmission network to operate much more efficiently. This will deliver a real benefit to homes and businesses throughout the island north and south.

It will play a vital role in supporting economic growth and facilitating investment in Northern Ireland by securing long-term electricity supply; giving employers and potential investors the certainty they need to plan for future growth.

The Interconnector will also help facilitate the connection of more renewable energy to the grid. This is essential to achieve Government-led renewable energy targets and to increase our energy independence, by reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas. 

Answering Your Questions

In our consultation about this project, we have heard your concerns. Our goal is to address genuine issues from members of the public, particularly in the project area. We’ve put together a helpful guide to answer your questions and explain basic facts about the project. This can be downloaded here.

We’ve also produced webfilms in response to key issues that have risen during our consultations with you. We hope this information allows you to find clear answers to questions that have been raised.