NEPPC Closing Submission Summary: Eirgrid planning application remains invalid and should be rejected

May 24, 2016

Media Release from North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC)

21 May 2016

NEPPC Oral hearing Closing submission summary in Word Doc

Multiple changes to the application during the Oral Hearing an unacceptable waste of public monies

NEPPC will make its closing submission to the 11 week Oral hearing today. Following are the main arguments that will be made:

• The Planning Application has been in the public domain for almost a year (June 2015). In the last 10 weeks the application has been laid bare at this Oral Hearing. Our position in June 2015 was that this is an application that was so inadequate and deficient on so many aspects that it should never have been accepted as a valid application by the Competent Authority of An Bord Pleanála (ABP). Our position at the end of this Oral Hearing is that the Application is even more inadequate, deficient and by default invalid than originally realised in June 2015. The significant changes, errata, omissions and admissions made during the Oral Hearing are a testament to this invalidity and to the fatally flawed contents of the application. The legitimacy of the application and indeed of the applicant is tarnished beyond redemption

• Eirgrid to this day has refused to carry out the relevant analysis and costing of a site-specific underground HVDC cable solution along public roads. It follows from this fact that the planning application has failed to include an objective consideration of alternatives, and this fact alone should render the entire application invalid. Eirgrid was unaware of the latest publication from the European underground cable manufacturers representative body – Europacable – highlighting and proving our argument that an appropriate HVDC cable can easily be accommodated along the roads of the North-East. This publication had to be handed to Eirgrid by NEPPC.

• Eirgrid’s blatant disregard for the whole process of consultation was on display at the Oral Hearing for the last 10 weeks. Over 50 access route changes onto farmers’ lands were made during the hearing. No landowner notification, never mind consultation, occurred prior to any of these announcements. In fact landowners related to the first 5 announcements on Day 1 were never even informed until 3 weeks later. There was a refusal by the company to make any attempt, such as public notices or other forms of media, to inform affected landowners promptly. There was also a refusal to put any of these changes on its website, until reluctantly consenting to do so at the very end of the hearing.

• Significant changes have been made to the planning application during the course of the Oral Hearing. The Board has refused to clarify if these proposed changes are being accepted. This begs the obvious but critical questions: Why are significant changes to the Planning Application being entertained at this late stage? Why is there a refusal to date to clarify if the changes will be accepted? Eirgrid has taken an ‘a la carte’ approach to the planning application. For example there are now optional: access routes ; guarding construction methods; cement delivery methods; traffic movements variability/traffic management options; forestry clearfelling- manual versus mechanical. This approach is contrary to all normal planning guidelines and instructions for the rest of the country

• The Oral Hearing process shone the spotlight on the glaring deficiencies in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The only rational conclusion that can be drawn is that the EIS is so deficient as to render it impossible to arrive at an adequate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Some key facts to remember:
- Eirgrid was unable to access at least 75% of the lands for which it intends to construct over 300 massive pylons.
- The EIS is thus 75% deficient in detailed site-specific information on such critical aspects as flora and fauna and soil geology.
- Eirgrid interviewed only 5% of the landowners on whose lands it requires access and cooperation.

• It is our respectful final submission that the Board has a duty to not only reject this application outright, but to direct that an appropriate alternative be considered for the future.

North East Pylon Pressure Campaign Limited
087- 680 36 66

Filed under: Press Releases 2016

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NEPP is the overall representative group for the people of Ireland's North East who advocate that high power electric cables should go underground.

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