EirGrid needs to come clean on its misuse of tapayers’ monies. NEPP urges Fine Gael to deliver on its pre-election commitments.

October 24, 2011

EirGrid withdrew its planning application for the North-South interconnector project in June  2010. NEPPC recorded its shock and disappointment at the lack of quality of the Environmental Impact Statement submitted as part of the planning application by EirGrid. It was deficient in many aspects, and inadequately addressed the substantive issues at the heart of the application. NEPPC requested that Eirgrid be held accountable for the consequences of its shoddy application, including a decision by EirGrid, in the interests of effective public consultation, to pay all NEPPC reasonable costs related to the Oral Hearing.

In  September, 2010, NEPPC was informed by EirGrid that it was refusing to compensate NEPPC for the significant costs incurred, outlining as part of its arguments that it needed to perform its duties economically and in a way that minimised costs.

The reality is very different, and the lavish expenditure by EirGrid in many areas highlights issues of uncontrolled spending, unaccountable behaviour and a blatant attempt to use what is in essence taxpayers’ funds to influence the same taxpayer’s in favour of its Grid 25 projects. NEPPC has written to Eirgrid requesting details of its promotional expenditure in the last 12 months, but has yet to receive a response. The following spending activities, however, provide examples of the promotional expenditure by EirGrid on sponsorships and programmes that are totally unrelated to its functions and duties:

August 2011 – EirGrid committed €50,000 to the Cavan Fleadh festival which was held this August 2011. NEPPC is of the opinion that this is a blatant attempt to buy support for the North-South interconnector, using taxpayers’ monies.

August 2011 – EirGrid sponsored the Ratoath GAA club for the recent Intermediate football 7’s tournament.

May 2011 – Eirgrid gave €100,000  to 39 Fingal community groups.  These included chess, cricket, badminton, GAA, and parent and toddler groups.

May 2011 – Eirgrid sponsored the ‘Best International Trade Award ‘ at the Midlands Ireland Gateway to Excellence Awards, Mullingar

April 2011 – Eirgrid sponsored a Welsh Irish Cultural event to celebrate St David’s day and St Patricks day. Over 100 people attended dinner and evening entertainment.

Oct 2010 –  EirGrid sponsored the ‘Euro Toques Food Awards’ (the Irish Branch of the European Community Chefs and Cooks).The EirGrid Euro-Toques food awards were presented last week.

Spring 2010 – EirGrid has shown disregard and disrespect for the integrity of the 2010 Oral Hearing process by launching a national media blitz in the run-up to this event, including:

  • National TV advertising across all of the main channels, amounting to 1,555 TV ‘Spots’ in the month of April alone.
  • Numerous Press advertisements in the main national newspapers.

The costs of such advertising activities were estimated to be €600,000, even though the company has no product to sell directly to the public.

These examples of EirGrid’s expenditure serve only to ridicule any arguments it has made in relation to refusing to pay NEPPC costs on the basis of economic efficiencies. It also serves as an affront to the people of the North-East, who stand to be very negatively affected by this project.

NEPPC has made numerous representations to Fine Gael, outlining the importance of public accountability by EirGrid and the need for reimbursement to ensure ongoing facilitation of effective public consultation in this project. At an NEPPC public meeting on 21st February, attended by over 350 people, a clear and unambiguous commitment was given by Fine Gael that NEPPC would be reimbursed for all relevant costs associated with the Oral Hearing.

To date, this commitment has not materialised. On the contrary, Eirgrid has restarted its preparation for a new planning application, with a target of resubmitting in November or December of this year. Furthermore, Eirgrid has embarked on an aggressive approach towards landowners in terms of written correspondence and unannounced visits, which has sparked significant negative reactions in communities around the North-East. EirGrid also has made it clear in its media communications that it is ignoring Fine Gael’s direction to freeze any activities on the North-South project subject to an independent study being carried out.

NEPPC  are holding an important public meeting on Tuesday evening next (1st November) at in 8.30 pm in the Ardboyne hotel, where Fine Gael TD’s will give an update on their pre-election commitments on this project.

‘It is unacceptable that our elected representatives stand idly by, watch EirGrid throw money around like snuff at a wake, and then communicate to NEPPC that there may be difficulties in delivering on their pre-election committments’ stated Aimée Treacy, chairperson of NEPPC. ‘The Government is the main shareholder of EirGrid and as such can direct it to take responsibility for its action of withdrawing its planning application in 2010. The lavish spending by EirGrid on non-business related projects means it has nowhere to hide in terms of reimbursing NEPPC. It also means that our elected representatives have nowhere to hide in terms of delivering on their pre-election commitments. NEPPC calls on all people in the North-East to attend its meeting next week to ensure that  a full and frank debate occurs’ stated Aimée Treacy.

-       Ends –

Further information:

Michael Keane, Insight Consultants

01 2939976 or 086 8244500

www.nepp.ie

Filed under: Press Releases 2010-2012


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