EirGrid planning application changes nothing

December 15, 2009

NEPP understands that an application by EirGrid to the Strategic Infrastructure Board (SIB) for planning approval is imminent but stresses that this “changes nothing”.

The North East Pylon Pressure Group understands that an application by EirGrid to the Strategic Infrastructure Board (SIB) for planning approval for giant pylons and high voltage overhead power lines in the North East is imminent.

This application is no surprise to us and changes nothing.   We always knew it would come and we have been preparing for it for the past two years, ever since our campaign began.

The timing of EirGrid’s submission, on the cusp of Christmas and the New Year holiday period, serves to significantly shorten the realistic response period available under planning law for NEPP and other interested parties to make submissions on this issue of national importance.   It shows scant regard for the statutory planning process or for the public’s right to a meaningful consultation process.

EirGrid’s submission of an application for planning approval does not alter the fundamental issues and choices raised by NEPP’s campaign.   New giant pylons and high voltage overhead lines are inappropriate in the North East.   Numerous advanced and more practical options exist. For example, underground cables laid along the existing rail infrastructure are a viable alternative – affordable, safer, and more reliable, with no interference with human or animal health, no negative effects on farming, archaeology, heritage, tourism or other business enterprises.

Since our campaign began, NEPP has amassed a vast amount of international and national data and research in support of our case for undergrounding.   We intend to deploy those resources, together with the best possible technical and legal expertise, fully and effectively in the course of the SIB’s consideration of EirGrid’s application for planning approval.    We will forensically dissect the Environmental Impact Assessment that must accompany the application.   We will make our own comprehensive submission to the SIB and will be requesting a full, oral hearing on the application.

The SIB planning process, by law, gives a role to local authorities to make their own comprehensive submissions to the Board.   NEPP calls on the county councils of Monaghan, Cavan and Meath to make submissions expressing their democratically-based opposition to pylons and in favour of the underground alternative.

In addition, any group specifically impacted negatively by EirGrid’s proposal is entitled to make a submission, in addition to the overall NEPP submission.   This category includes farming organisations, tourism bodies, GAA clubs and county boards, schools, heritage groups, environmental groups and individual citizens.   NEPP calls on all affected groups to study how EirGrid’s application affects them and to make a submission in response.

A spokesman for NEPP said: ‘The Strategic Infrastructure Board process is an opportunity we have been preparing for to make our case.   It’s an opportunity as well for people, organisations and public representatives across the North East to make their voices heard clearly in opposition to pylons and overhead lines’.

The Spokesman continued: ‘The SIB application is not the end of our campaign.  It is just the beginning of a new phase.   In the end, EirGrid must be made accountable to the democratic process and we will continue to lobby politicians of all parties to establish a national policy of undergrounding proposed high voltage power lines.   There is time for them to do that and the commencement of the SIB planning process does not change that.’

In a sworn affidavit to the High Court, dated 19th May 2008, EirGrid’s Project Manager, Mr Tom�??�?¡s Mahoney, stated: ‘It is recognised by the Respondent that such infrastructure cannot be put in place without the general acceptance of the people of the North East…’   NEPP agrees with Mr Mahoney’s assessment.   There can be no pylons without the people’s agreement.   And the people will never give their agreement.

The NEPP campaign was formed in October 2007 and represents more than 45,000 people in counties Monaghan, Meath and Cavan who favour underground cables as an alternative to pylons and overhead lines.  The group is in favour of re-inforcing the electricity grid and of a new interconnector with the North, so long as underground cabling is employed.

Filed under: News & Events,Planning Hearing 2010,Press Releases 2007-2009

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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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