East West Interconnector Biodiversity Project

The East West Interconnector (EWIC) connects the electricity grids of Ireland and Great Britain. At the interconnector site at Portan, Co. Meath, EirGrid has put in place a biodiversity enhancement project.

Project Overview

EirGrid owns and operates EWIC, managed in partnership with Hitachi ABB Power Grids. The EWIC is a key piece of national infrastructure, connecting our grid to Great Britain's. It benefits our power system by:

  • Providing energy for up to 300,000 homes
  • Strengthening security of electricity supply
  • Facilitating increased renewable energy on each grid

The EWIC is 260 km in length, 186 km of which is beneath the Irish Sea. It includes onshore converter stations in Portan, Co Meath and Shotten, north Wales.

At the Portan converter station site, around four hectares is given over to unmanaged grassland meadow. It also has intensely managed amenity grassland areas and a small area of native woodland plantation.

Since 2019, we have been carrying out a biodiversity enhancement at the Portan site. An overview of the Portan Converter Station site is shown in the map below.

Ewic Biodiversity Project Site Map

Biodiversity Actions to Date

The enhancements we are carrying out at Portan site promote a range of biodiversity improvements. They include:

  • Changing the mowing regime of the meadow and digging out perennial weeds to increase wildflower abundance and diversity
  • Partnering with the charity treesontheland to plant up to 1,000 native and Irish-grown trees
  • Stopping herbicide use in the existing parkland area
  • Creating fenced-off scrapes for nesting bees
  • Leaving dead wood lying within the plantation for insects, fungi and bats
  • Installing a nesting bird box with a camera to monitor bird breeding success (records will be submitted to the British Trust for Ornithology)

We are also carrying out a botanical measuring programme to measure the results of these actions. EirGrid’s ecologist designed an outline of the monitoring programme in 2019. In 2020, an ecological consultant from Wetland Surveys Ireland (WSI) refined the monitoring programme.

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Sharing Results of the Project

We will continue to update this page with future updates on the project.

The project is registered under the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.

The National Parks & Wildlife Service has included the EWIC Biodiversity Project as a case study in their Irish Business and Biodiversity Project report.

Future Actions

We are considering options to use the EWIC site for environmental training and educational purposes to benefit local communities.

As part of this, we are exploring interactive audiovisual signage around the site. We are also exploring use of ‘geotagging’ to lead visitors through key biodiversity features.

Project Contacts

Robert Fennelly

EirGrid Ecologist

Email: robert.fennelly@eirgrid.com