Dublin, 31 January
The Minister for Communications, Energy and
Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D. today (31 January 2014) met with former
Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness, chair of the expert panel
convened to oversee the preparation of reports on the best underground
route options to compare with the Grid Link and Grid West high voltage power
lines currently being designed.
The Taoiseach and Minister Rabbitte agreed this
week that the Minister would ask Mrs Justice McGuinness to consider what work,
if any, her panel might usefully undertake to establish that there has been
parity of treatment between the North South project, in terms of the work
undertaken to date, and Grid Link and Grid West, in terms of the studies that
are now proposed. The Chairperson said that she would discuss the issue with the
expert panel “to consider what, if anything, we can do.” Mrs Justice McGuinness
also indicated that she would be convening a meeting of the panel as early as
The Minister noted that “the expert panel will
not be asked to express a preference or to make any recommendations in relation
to overhead or underground options. Rather, they will be asked to ensure that
the underground studies are complete and objective, and are comparable to
similar studies of overhead options for the two projects. In effect, the panel
will certify the integrity of the process, with the commissioned material being
put out for public debate and, ultimately, for consideration and decision by the
Electro-magnetic fields (EMF) will not fall under
the remit of the expert panel. The Minister for the Environment, Community and
Local Government, arising from the Cabinet decision, will engage expert
assistance to review and report on international developments, since 2007, on
any potential health effects of electro-magnetic fields emanating from
transmission grid infrastructure. In 2007, an Expert Group established by the
then Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources published a
report on “Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields”. The forthcoming review
will bring that 2007 report up to date.
Note to Editors:
North-South transmission line
The North-South transmission line is a critical
and strategically urgent transmission reinforcement and is of critical
importance in the broader North-South context. This is because, as well as
reinforcing the grid in the North East region of the State, the transmission
line will be a vital link in maintaining the security of electricity supply for
Northern Ireland into the future. Planning for this project has been underway
for the last 10 years, with a planning application already submitted for the
part of the project in Northern Ireland, and that planning process is in train.
Responsibility for electro-magnetic fields (EMF)
rests with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.
Minister Phil Hogan agreed this week that he will engage expert assistance to
review and report on international developments in the scientific literature on
potential health effects of EMF emanating from transmission grid infrastructure.
It is anticipated that this study will provide the best available information
· published, peer reviewed scientific literature
relating to non-ionising radiation and associated epidemiological matters,
· work carried out under, and findings of,
relevant international bodies, as well as
· relevant international and national standards
and guidelines covering the period 2007 to date.
The study will serve as an update on a report,
“Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields”, which was produced by the Department
of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources in 2007.