Over 200 people attended a Bord Pleanála hearing this afternoon into Eirgrid's controversial plans to build an overhead electricity connector through the northeast.

The plan involves the construction of 299 pylons over the 103km route between the border at Clontibret in Monaghan and a large substation in Batterstown, Co Meath.

The pylons would vary in height 26-51m across Monaghan, Cavan and Meath.

Senior Counsel for Eirgrid, the company behind the proposals, told the hearing in Carrickmacross that the project is essential to secure safe, reliable, economic and efficient electricity supply between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Jarleth Fitzsimons said the development would save €20m annually by 2020 rising to €60m by 2030.

Eirgrid had looked at the possibility of putting the high-voltage cables underground but the best technical solution was to keep the cables overground all the way, he said.

The hearing has yet to hear from objectors to the plan.

They want the cables placed underground for health and environmental reasons.

This is the second oral hearing by An Bord Pleanála into plans to build the inter-connector.

The first hearing collapsed in 2010 after several weeks of hearing testimony.

The hearing is scheduled to last 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, this morning, the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign sought an injunction to stop the hearing taking place. The injunction was not granted. 

The case will return to the court on 18 March.