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24Feb94 UK: LABOUR MP GEORGE FOULKES FORCES POWER LINE PROBE.

A leading Labour MP last week claimed he had forced Scottish secretary Ian Lang to open a public inquiry into the Scotland to Northern Ireland electricity interconnector In his campaign to scrap the £175 million power line Labour MP George Foulkes alleged that £61 million of European Union aid is being used by the Government to finance the project in a secret deal between it and the Ulster Unionists.Mr Foulkes claims the deal for the power line, which would export electricity from Scotland to the Province, was struck in return for the Unionists' vote over the Maastricht Treaty.Mr Foulkes claims the Unionists wanted 'an umbilical cord from Northern Ireland to Scotland' even though evidence shows it would be cheaper for the Province to generate its own power, thereby creating about 700 jobs. Without European aid the project would not be viable.Mr Foulkes, whose Ayrshire constituency will be crossed by 64 kms of overhead pylons, said: 'Now we've got a public inquiry we can argue that the Interconnector must be scrapped.'It will harm local scenery and poses a danger to health. It will also have an adverse effect on the local economy - principally tourism.' CONSTRUCTION NEWS