Eirgrid’s Christmas present to rural Ireland an outrageous affront to democracy.

December 16, 2013


Media Release from North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC)

 16th December 2013

 

Eirgrid’s Christmas present to rural Ireland an outrageous affront to democracy

State company brazenly decides on collision course approach with communities in the North-East

EirGrid, on the cusp of Christmas, has despatched maps with pylon positions, access routes and stringing line areas to landowners across Meath, Cavan and Monaghan and given notice of its intentions to re-submit a planning application to An Bord Pleanála in early 2014 to erect over 400 giant pylons across Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh and Tyrone.

The planning application for the North-South interconnector is a mirror image of the failed submission made in December 2009, apart from the cynical decision to withdraw the originally proposed substation near Kingscourt and apply for it separately at a later date. EirGrid has refused, as was the case with its aborted planning application in 2009, to identify and cost a specific underground cable route alternative, despite many requests to do so over the last 4 years. It has also stubbornly refused to include land and property devaluation costs, tourism and landscape impacts or delay costs into its project costings.

 

NEPPC wishes to make the following comments regarding the planned re-submission:

  1.  For the past number of months there has been a national outcry concerning Eirgrid’s plans to dot the country with pylons. There have been numerous Joint Oireachtas Committee and Dáil debates on the matter. Eirgrid has responded with pious platitudes about engaging with the public and improving the public consultation process. A motion was recently proposed by Fianna Fáil in the Dáil that an independent international study of the costs and health effects of transmission project options be examined. In the midst of this ongoing debate EirGrid has served notice to the people of the North-East that it intends driving on regardless of public concerns or political pressure. This cold, clinical approach of heaping stress and anxiety onto local communities just before Christmas reveals a culture of arrogance and a blatant disregard for democracy.
  2. Eirgrid’s brazen approach of refusing to examine undergrounding and to ignore public opposition strongly indicates that it carries the imprimatur of the full backing of Government to steam-roll the North-South interconnector through the planning stages, and in so doing break the will of local communities opposing the Grid Link and Grid West projects. Elected representatives of the Government parties need to decide if they report to EirGrid or if they will represent the people who elected them.
  3. The timing of EirGrid’s actions is both irresponsible and inflammatory. The company is purposely setting itself on a direct confrontational route with local communities. EirGrid would do well to be mindful of the following:

a)   97% of landowners are irreversibly opposed to the Eirgrid plans. They will never allow overhead lines and pylons to be erected on their private property, particularly when an underground alternative exists.

b)   The current EirGrid Project Manager Mr John Fitzgerald recently stated on the airwaves that: “..public acceptability is key. We have to have these projects accepted or they simply won’t be built..”. In a sworn affidavit to the High Court, dated 19th May 2008, EirGrid’s then Project Manager, Mr Tomás Mahony, 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…’   NEPPC agrees with Mr Mahony’s assessment.   There can be no pylons without the people’s agreement.   And the people will never give their agreement.

c)   EirGrid needs to heed the lessons of the Theresa Treacy debacle in Offaly recently. There are hundreds of such cases potentially waiting to happen in Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.

d)   EirGrid’s persistence to ignore reality and to submit a planning application exclusively based on an overhead lines request is an irresponsible waste, yet again, of taxpayers’ monies, which should not be accepted by our elected representatives.

e)   Receipt of planning approval from An Bord Pleanála is meaningless if enforcement by the local authority is not possible because of the unanimous rejection of such by the people.

  1. Eirgrid, via an initiative from the Dept. of the Environment and the Dept. of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, has the audacity to try and buy peoples acceptance of the overhead lines approach by offering slush funds to local authorities. “Such a proposal to award slush funds to local government and local communities is nothing short of a blatant attempt to buy people’s acceptance, with funds that are ultimately coming from the taxpayer anyway” stated Aimée Treacy, chairperson of NEPPC. “There is no greater insult to give to a landowner than to assume he can be bought, even at the cost of sacrificing his family’s health and the value of his landholding”, she further stated
  2. EirGrid has selectively cherry-picked statements from the Independent Expert Commission (IEC) report, to suit its overhead lines policy. It should be remembered that the IEC report states quite clearly that undergrounding the North-South interconnector is now a ‘realistic solution’. This is primarily driven by ‘significant technical developments and a commercial breakthrough’ of the most recently developed VSC HVDC technology. Furthermore, the report clearly highlights that undergrounding is the only practical and publicly acceptable way forward for the vast majority of current major projects in Europe.

NEPPC calls upon TD’s, councillors and MEP’s to step up and get involved in actually representing its constituents on this subject. The only sound the public hear from Government representatives in the North-East is one of silence. “We welcome the efforts being continually made by Fianna Fáil and other opposition groups to seek a practical solution to the challenges involved”, a spokesperson for NEPPC stated.


- ENDS –

 

Filed under: Press Releases,Press Releases 2013


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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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