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EirGrid Publishes Commitment to New Consultation Process

News release by EirGrid December 2014

5th December, 2014. EirGrid today announced details of our new approach to consultation arising from a comprehensive review of our existing consultation process for grid development projects. This is the conclusion of one of the five initiatives announced by EirGrid early this year.

There were four inputs into the consultation review; a review of public feedback; a review of international best practice in public consultation; an independent external expert review carried out by SLR Consulting Limited; and an independent external expert review carried out by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. The review of the consultation process highlighted the importance of engagement with the public and with communities directly impacted by new grid projects.

The review found that while significant consultation measures had been undertaken by EirGrid, changes are required to improve the process for future engagement to ensure that it is in line with international best practice. As a result, EirGrid is committing to improving the organisation’s approach to public consultation in the future. The public will be given the opportunity to comment on the approach until the 30th of January 2015. Details of how to comment are provided on the EirGrid website.

EirGrid has largely accepted the conclusions of the two independent studies and has compiled a set of commitments based on all of the inputs into the consultation review. The commitments, which will be implemented by the company over the coming months, are grouped under three headings (full details of the commitments are listed in the accompanying notes to editor):

Theme 1: Develop a Participative Approach We will move to a more community-focused approach when developing electricity projects - to enable greater stakeholder participation from the outset.

Theme 2: Change our Culture and Processes We will change the culture and processes in our organisation - to develop stronger relationships with stakeholders and communities.

Theme 3: Encourage Leadership & Advocacy We will seek support from the political system and state bodies - to better explain energy issues and make the benefits of a stronger system clearer to all.

EirGrid has set out a timeline for the implementation of all of the commitments, the majority of which will be implemented within the next six months, and will keep the approach to consultation under constant review to ensure that it meets expectations.

Speaking about the new approach to consultation, Fintan Slye, Chief Executive, EirGrid, said: “The implementation of these commitments will strengthen EirGrid’s approach to consultation. Our primary goal is to restore trust and enable greater participation in the decision-making process as part of future consultations. The commitments require a change within EirGrid, and we are fully committed to achieving this as quickly as possible. We believe this is critical if we are to deliver the grid, on behalf of all electricity users, to meet the needs of people, communities, businesses, the economy and society overall now and in the future.”

EirGrid also gave a brief update in relation to the four other initiatives announced earlier this year.

Consideration of Underground v Overhead:

ï‚· On the Grid West project, EirGrid has identified a potential underground route. The work conducted on both underground and overhead routes will be submitted by EirGrid to the Government-appointed Independent Expert Panel, which will review this work to ensure that both options were assessed to the same level of detail, before the project progresses.

ï‚· On the Grid Link Project, EirGrid is working to identify a potential underground route, which we will publish alongside an overhead option for the project in mid-2015. Both options will then go out for public consultation before being presented to the Independent Expert Panel.

Community Gain Fund:

ï‚· We have proposed a fund for localities and for residences located close to new pylons and stations

Specialist Reports

ï‚· We are currently producing reports on the specialist areas of Tourism, Equine and Agriculture and will continue to consult the with relevant sector stakeholders in these areas.

Government initiated expert review of Electric and Magnetic Fields:

ï‚· We will adopt and adhere to recommendations arising from this review

EirGrid is also currently undertaking its latest review of Grid25, which is part of its ongoing process to continually assess project need. The results of the latest review will be published early next year.

For further information contact:

EirGrid press office on 087 0555393

Rosemary Steen on 087 0505050

Nuala Buttner Q4 PR 085 174 4275