An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for the onshore element of the €1 billion Celtic Interconnector Project, subject to a number of conditions.

When constructed, the underwater link will allow the Irish grid to exchange power with the electricity system in France.

The development has been welcomed by grid operator Eirgrid, which lodged the application last July.

"This brings us one step closer to the many benefits this project will bring, including improving the security of electricity supply, helping to achieve our climate objectives and reducing the cost of electricity," said EirGrid chief infrastructure officer, Michael Mahon.

"A lot of people have been involved in this project and we recognise especially the input of communities in East Cork who have provided important feedback and engaged constructively with the project team."

If other permissions required are granted, it is expected that the interconnector will be up and running by 2026.

A separate foreshore licence application has been submitted by the project team for the parts of the interconnector that will be developed offshore.

A marine licence has also to be granted by the UK Marine Management Organisation before the project can go ahead.

"Our focus now moves to progressing the project to the construction phase, subject to the planning conditions," said Mr Mahon.

"During this phase we will carry out ongoing detailed assessments and continue to engage with and listen to communities and stakeholders."

The interconnector is being developed in conjunction with the Réseau de Transport d'Electricité (RTE) in France.

The European Commission's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Energy Programme granted €530 million in funding for the project three years ago.

The interconnector will make landfall in Youghal and the permission covers the cable route, converter station and network connection as well as other associated technologies.

Once complete, the connection will allow up to allow 700 MW of electricity to move between the countries, equivalent to the power used by around 450,000 homes.