News Letter
7 March 2012

A PUBLIC inquiry into the creation of a high voltage power line was adjourned yesterday so that medical evidence could be considered about its possible impact on a resident’s pacemaker.

The inquiry is considering a proposal by Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) for a substation at Moy and a 400-kilovolt overhead line to Crossreagh and Crossbane in Co Armagh, part of a cross-border scheme known as the North/South Interconnector.

In August 2010, then Environment Minister Edwin Poots decided to hold the inquiry because the proposal “raises a number of issues which need further exploration” including “the impact on public health and the consideration of alternative technologies such as underground cabling”.

Chairman for the inquiry, commissioner Aidan McCooey, asked all parties at the inquiry in Armagh City Hotel yesterday for their views on medical evidence that had been supplied by a resident and objector to the plans. Some 100 people attended to hear the proceedings.

James Joseph Woods, 68, of Dernela Road in Co Armagh, supplied an affidavit which said he lives 250 metres from the proposed high voltage line. His statement said that he has been fitted with a “medical implantable cardio-defibrillator” and gave related medical evidence about his concerns on the plans.

Counsel for NIE, William Orbinson, said yesterday that “it is part of an objector’s case so we will have to grapple with it”.

However, he said there were seven related files and requested time overnight to reflect on the contents, including ECG information and reports from a heart and lung hospital.

Mr McCooey pointed out that NIE had “all the material” on the issue but Mr Orbinson protested: “We need considerable time to reflect on the arguments”.

Mr Orbinson further insisted: “We would need to consult our EMF [Electro-Magnetic Field] expert by way of rebuttal. We will have to go through it line by line to consider what our response will be.”

The chairman agreed to adjourn until 9.30am this morning. He said “health effects” were on the agenda and “we will be debating them”.

However, NIE counsel Mr Orbinson was unsure whether he would be in a position to debate by this morning.

The chairman said other issues that would be raised this morning included ecological issues, natural heritage issues and the protection of habitats for protected species.

Mr Orbinson also objected that his ecological witness was not available for this morning’s hearing. However the chairman responded that “you have known about this inquiry for some time and it was inevitable we would raise these issues”. Mr Orbinson replied: “I will reflect on this overnight.”

At hearing.