The Study Area and Route Options
The study area and route options
The study area is the area within which the electricity infrastructure for the East Meath-North Dublin Grid Upgrade is proposed to be built. This study area has been revised since Step 3 to reflect the further studies we have carried out and underground cable route options identified. Electricity infrastructure in this instance means the physical cables and structures that are used to transmit high-voltage electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. The below map displays the study area using a dashed purple line. Within this, there are four route options: Red, Green, Yellow and Blue.
How do we plan route options?
We follow a set of guidelines called routing principles when identifying route options. Our routing principles for this project, where possible, are to:
- Avoid motorways;
- Avoid sensitive natural and built heritage locations;
- Avoid town centres and industrial estates;
- Avoid going off-road, through private land and through agricultural land where possible;
- Maximise the use of national, regional and local roads;
- Minimise impact on communities where possible; and
- Minimise the overall length of the route.
We also consider constraints. Examples of constraints are:
- The width and quality of the road;
- Other services in the road such as water, gas and drainage;
- Potential impact on the environment including European and national protected areas for biodiversity, invasive and protected species and other important biodiversity areas (including undesignated habitats);
- Areas of high amenity and ongoing works.
Consideration is given to City and County Development Plans and Local Area Plans and in addition to this, feedback from local communities is at the heart of our process.
Figure 3: The study area and route options
Click to enlarge and zoom
How do we assess route options?
We assess and compare options under five categories:
- Technical aspects: Compliance with electricity standards and other operational aspects.
- Economic factors: Project implementation costs.
- Environmental factors: Topics including biodiversity, landscape, archaeology, and water quality.
- Socio-economic factors: Such as the local economy and local amenities.
- Deliverability factors: Such as timeline and potential risks
Figure 4: The five multi-criteria assessment categories
Common to all four route options
All routes start from Woodland substation
Woodland 400kV substation near Batterstown, Co Meath is of national strategic importance within the electricity transmission grid. It already has several major circuits connected with other grid infrastructure developments planned to be connected in the coming years. In order to facilitate future connections, the station requires improvement works within the existing compound to accomodate all of these projects.
We recognise that this substation and the local communities in this area are facilitating a wide range of electricity infrastructure projects. We are committed to working with businesses, local communities, landowners and all key stakeholders to minimise the disruption caused with developing these projects.
Overview of projects currently in development at Woodland substation
There are a number of high voltage infrastructure projects which are planned to connect to the existing Woodland station, such as:
- East Meath-North Dublin Grid Upgrade
- Kildare – Meath Grid Upgrade
- North South Interconnector
- Woodland substation improvement works
For this grid development project, Woodland is the common connection point for each of the four proposed route options. Parts of these routes will be off-road where routing challenges are identified. Before we can determine a more specific route in this area, we need to do more:
- local engagement,
- design studies, and
Where possible, we will avoid impacts to communities and businesses. We will avoid impacts to agricultural land as far as possible by minimising off-road sections. Where off-road sections are needed, we will carefully route the cable following discussions with the people affected.
All routes travel to Belcamp substation
Belcamp 220kV substation is an existing substation in the Clonshaugh area of County Dublin around 7km from Dublin city centre. This substation is also of strategic importance in the electricity transmission grid, as it will accommodate further grid development projects in the coming years. This 220kV substation needs to be extended and a new 400kV substation needs to be built using the land beside the existing building. The works will improve power quality and support future renewable generation, including offshore renewables, and growing electricity demand in the north Dublin area.
Overview of projects currently in development at Belcamp substation
- East Meath-North Dublin Grid Upgrade
- Kildare – Meath Grid Upgrade (Associated works)
- Shellybanks to Belcamp 220kV cable
- Finglas to Belcamp 220kV cable
- Belcamp 220kV substation extension
As with Woodland, for this grid development project, Belcamp is the common connection point for each of the four proposed route options.
All routes cross a motorway
All routes will cross the M3, M2 and M1 between Woodland and Belcamp.
It is likely these crossings will use Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) to minimise disruption and impacts on existing infrastructure.
Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is a method of drilling that installs underground pipelines and cables without digging trenches. It involves using a directional drilling machine to drill along the chosen path and then install the required pipe.
Please know that we will engage extensively with all relevant bodies, carry out all necessary studies and reduce impacts to communities, landowners, and environment as much as possible before starting these works.
All route options have off-road corridors
The length of the four options ranges from 37km to 43km. Most of the cable route in each option can be laid in the existing road network. However, each option will require some of the cable route to be off-road. These off-road corridors will range from approximately 3km to 9km of the cable route.
Where off-road routing is unavoidable, we do not yet know what the exact route may be. For this reason, we highlight a corridor of space on each of the route maps. The off-road section may pass through any part of this corridor. We will decide this after detailed discussions with the landowners affected. We will avoid agricultural land as far as possible.
Please note that we could consider further route options by combining sections of each of the proposed routes. We may need to make additional adjustments if, during the consultation process, the public identify additional information for consideration.
Overview of the proposed route options
The following table provides an overview of the four underground cable options we are considering for this project. Please note that the route lengths referenced below are indicative only and will be finalised when a full and detailed route is agreed.
|Option||Estimated overall length (km)||Estimated off-road sections (km)||Environmental impact||Social impact and potential disruption during construction||
|Option A (Red)||37||9||Low-Moderate||Low-Moderate||Shortest route but affects the most amount of agricultural land of all options.|
Option B (Green)
|38||7||Low-Moderate||Low-Moderate||Second shortest route and avoids Hollystown.|
|Option C (Yellow)||43||2||Moderate||Moderate||Longest route. Goes through Batterstown village and southern suburbs of Swords. Least agricultural land.|
|Option D (Blue)||41||4||Low-Moderate||Low-Moderate||Second longest route length, second lowest amount of agricultural land. Avoids Kilbride village.|
Table 1: At a glance comparison of the proposed route options
In the following sections, we look at each of the four options in turn.