North Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann has welcomed planning approval for a new electricity line proposed to run between Brockaghboy and Rasharkin and said that effective engagement with the community by SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland), the applicant, was key to achieving consent.
The £20 million project, which is required to connect an already consented wind farm in Co. Londonderry to the electricity grid in Rasharkin, includes 17km of new overhead lines – which will be supported mostly by wooden poles and a small number of steel towers - and approximately 2km of underground cable.
A planning application for the proposal was submitted to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council in December 2015 and was approved at last week’s planning committee meeting. Before submission of the application, SONI held a number of community consultation events over a 12-month period to inform locals.
Assemblyman Swann said: “Modern electricity infrastructure is essential for economic growth and to attract investment in the North Antrim area. However it should be developed with the least possible impact on the local area. After the community consultation events held by SONI last year a number of residents from the Portna Road area in Rasharkin contacted me with concerns about the project.
“Through various meetings between SONI, myself and the concerned residents I am happy that SONI took their concerns on board and subsequently amended the proposal to address the issues that were raised.
“I very much welcome planning approval for the amended proposal, which will facilitate substantial investment and job creation in a major renewable energy project, and thank SONI for their cooperation and willingness to listen to the views of local residents.
“Effective engagement with the community has been key to achieving a positive outcome for everyone.”