Farm Ireland

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Farmer on why he'd rather go to jail than allow pylons 'see the light of day'

My week: Edgar Eakin

Edgar and Carol Eakin on their farm at Corduff, Co. Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Edgar and Carol Eakin on their farm at Corduff, Co. Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Ken Whelan

Edgar Eakin is very unhappy with Eirgrid who have just got the green light from the planning board to put power lines across his farm in Corduff in Co Monaghan. And like most of his neighbours, is considering how best to fight the decision. The High Court beckons, it appears.

He maintains the controversial power line is being "bullied through the countryside" by the authorities who simply refuse to listen to farmers and rural dwellers who want the power lines put underground.

The immediate effect of the decision, which will see the pylons within 120m of his 100ac farm, will be to devalue his land and the consequential outcome will be to restrict any type of rural housing within the energy zone pencilled in by Eirgrid.

"About 98pc of the people living in this area are against the pylons and many have said they would prefer to go to jail than to allow them see the light of day in this locality but that is going to cost money in court actions so we will see what happens," the 44-year-old dairy farmer says.

He says it is ironic that these Eirgrid pylons cannot be located near chicken coups because of their adverse effects on the fertility of chickens but there is absolutely no equivalent fertility effect on cattle and cows.

Edgar is married to Carol and the couple have four young school-going children - Kyle (16), Jamie (14), Jeffrey (12) and Jessica (8) - and he milks an 80-strong herd of Holsteins supplying Lakelands who provided a healthy 38.5c/l in his January milk cheque.

"It's a good price," Edgar says, "but I hear it may not last,"

This is the fourth generation of the Eakins to farm in Corduff, where a variety of farming enterprises have been undertaken down the years. Edgar himself started farming at the tender age of 16 when after he did his Green Cert at Gurteen College.

Also Read

Edgar, an only son (his two sisters are away teaching in Donegal and London) can still rely on help from his parents - Fred, a sprightly 90 years of age, and Jean who is slightly younger.

Both parents help out in the milking parlour when required, as does the Edgars' eldest son, Kyle.

"He's a great help around the farm. He helped wrapping bales last year and he will be able to get his license this year," the proud father says of his eldest.

He also runs a contracting business doing round baling, reseeding, hedge trimming and slurry work. His contracting beat goes from Carrickmacross across to Shercock and Inniskean.

A particular pebble in his shoe with this work at the moment are the mandatory dates imposed by the Department of Agriculture for spreading the slurry.

"We had a mild time over the winter and farmers should have been allowed spread the slurry as the weather allowed. Now the weather has turned and much of the land cannot be travelled and the slurry tanks are full. There should be some flexibility with the slurry deadline," Edgar maintains.

As a farmer whose land is ten miles away from the Border, Edgar is hoping there will be no excessive economic fallout from the Brexit negotiations.

He is happy with what he is hearing from the authorities at the moment about an unchanged Border but warns that any re-introduction of a hard Border would cause chaos.

"It's only 10 minutes on a fast road from Dundalk to Newry but if there are border posts introduced it is going to be terrible," Edgar believes.

Edgar off-farm pursuits include indoor bowls, table tennis and snooker.

When I boldly suggest he hardly breaks a sweat with these pastimes, he quickly replies, with no little emphasis, that I obviously hadn't played table tennis lately.

How did he guess.

Indo Farming

More in Dairy