East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has warned of multiple power blackouts unless an electricity interconnector with the Republic of Ireland is allowed to proceed.
After a meeting at Westminster with representatives of SONI, the body responsible for the distribution network for electricity in Northern Ireland, the DUP man claimed that a combination of green energy policies and Sinn Fein opposition to the building the interconnector “mean that by 2020 or sooner we could face a situation in N.I. where the available supply of electricity was less than the demand resulting in power blackouts or forcible reductions in consumption by industry here”.
Mr Wilson added: “Due to EU directives on emissions of CO2 both Kilroot and Ballylumford will be forced to reduce output electricity from various renewable sources are too unreliable, insufficient to meet demand and anyhow are very costly, the inter connector to the Irish Republic where there is a surplus of supply, is therefore essential.
“Sinn Fein and various green groups have been fighting a continuous war against the building of overhead lines through South Armagh, the public inquiry has dragged on but is due to resume in the new year. It is vital that a positive conclusion is reached to this planning application for a power line to connect us to the Republic. The alternative suggested that the line be buried would cost an extra £500m which would be passed on to the consumer, would present technical problems to maintain, would be environmentally damaging and would be far more disruptive to farmers in the area.”
The MP warned: “Unless we can have the certainty of supply which the interconnector offers attempts to attract new industries and foreign investment to N.I. will be undermined. How on one hand can the Industry minister hold out the incentive of lower corporation tax while at the same time not being able to promise investors guaranteed power supplies? On one hand the Greens and Sinn Fein rail against fuel poverty, but then insist on a power distribution solution which adds £500m to the costs of supplying electricity to homes here.
“There must be no delay in the inquiry reaching a conclusion, the commissioner must take into consideration what is at stake economically and there should be no accommodation of the deliberate delaying tactics used by the selfish interests who are holding every electricity consumer to ransom. This is an issue with real potential to cause economic havoc in N.I.,” he added.