Piling on the pressure - EirGrid opponents vow to continue fight
EirGrid's North-South electricity interconnector has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála, but campaigners opposed to the project have vowed to fight on
'The stress has turned into resilience, that's what the politicians need to understand."
So says Padraig O'Reilly of the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) which held a meeting in Kells last week attended by 600 concerned landowners and local representatives.
The group is fighting the planned overground North-South interconnector from Meath to Tyrone which, it claims, will require around 400 pylons. The group's anxiety was heightened before Christmas when An Board Pleanála (ABP) approved EirGrid's planning application.
"The anger, frustration and disappointment at the decision by An Board Pleanála was clear at the meeting. People have put their lives on hold because of this issue. We feel the decision by An Bord Pleanála flies in the face of natural justice, but we are resilient, we won't lie down and we are considering our next step," said O'Reilly.
The NEPPC says it wants a strengthened national electricity grid but not "at the price of people's lives and health", and not one that causes irreparable damage "to our environment, heritage and livelihoods".
The group is campaigning for the North-South interconnector to be laid underground. As such, its representatives will meet with Denis Naughten, Minister for Communication, Climate Action and Environment, in the coming fortnight to discuss their fears and to ask him to instruct EirGrid to pursue an underground option instead. The proposed line will also cut through the counties of Monaghan and Cavan.
The NEPPC is also considering the option of a judicial review of ABP's decision. However, that process could cost up to €120,000, and may not ultimately be successful.
"Already people have had to dig deep. We've been to the High Court twice and made oral submissions. Local communities have spent a small fortune fighting this already," says O'Reilly.