The start date of the integrated Irish power market that connects the Irish Republic with Northern Ireland has been put back by four months.

The cross-border network unification scheme, which both the British and Irish governments hope will bring significant benefits to consumers, will now be implemented in November 2007, rather than the planned July.

Regulators on both sides of the border argued that more time is needed to check the integrated system will work, but added that progress on creating the market had been solid so far.

The new Single Electricity Market is the first of its kind in the European Union and will be a flagship development in the European drive towards a common energy market, said Peter Hain, the UK’s Northern Ireland minister, adding that it was essential that its creation was managed properly prior to switch-on.