The lights will go out in Mid Ulster and industries close unless the North-South Interconnector is built, that’s the warning from Mid Ulster MP, Francie Molloy.
“There is a great and growing need for the North-South interconnector”, said the Sinn Fein representative.
“Recent meetings I have had with NIE/PowerNI have made it clear to me that they cannot guarantee a secure and steady supply to homes or industry in the coming years.”
The issue of the Interconnector is a controversial one, with conservationists, sporting organisations and local residents criticising the proposals to build the 25-mile power line with 102 pylons from Moy to the border in Co Armagh.
Mid Ulster Council has also joined the ranks of councils like Armagh, Craigavon and Banbridge, in refusing to support the interconnector plans.
The interconnector has already been the subject of a public enquiry and its proposal led to the formation of local lobby group SEAT (Safe Electricity for Armagh and Tyrone), who for the past five years have demanded that the power lines be laid underground amid health fears.
No Mr Molloy has warned of the dire consequences of not intalling the network.
“To develop industry, particularly west of the Bann then we will need the interconnector”, he said. “There have already been instances where local companies based for many years in Mid Ulster have been old that if you want a supply increase then you need to move to areas such as Ballymena.
“Across Mid Ulster there is a growing engineering sector, they want to expand and increase the number of jobs, but they need an increase in power supply to achieve this development. At present, for many companies that supply can’t be guaranteed.
“Jobs with engineering firms are not just in welding and fitting. With new technologies developing these jobs are in hi-tech computer design roles, they are in sales across the globe and they are for skilled people operating precision machinery.
“Today our local companies are working with the universities and with South West College to develop the skills that are enabling our young men and women to create new designs that are being marketed worldwide.
“I have met with many local firms in recent times who are all saying the same thing. They need to be able to expand but are limited by the failings of the energy sector to develop the infrastructure over many years. The Utility Regulator and the new Economy Minister needs to address this infrastructural neglect urgently.”