THE Government faces a backlash against the installation of monster pylons in the countryside even if a key route is delayed until after the local elections in May.
The decision on the €500m Grid Link line from Cork via Waterford to Kildare has to be made independently by EirGrid.
It is understood the agency is well aware of how sensitive the issue is for Fine Gael and Labour candidates running in May's council elections.
But even if the selection of one of five possible routes is pushed back, the Government will be unable to avoid the impact of other pylon routes being planned by EirGrid in the run-up to May's elections.
EirGrid is going to reapply to An Bord Pleanala for permission to build a North-South power line between Meath and Tyrone before the end of March. And a preferred route has also been selected for the Grid West pylon project in Mayo.
"That won't cut (it) with the public. It will be an issue before, during and after the local elections," he said.
Anti-pylon campaigners have said that irrespective of any decision to postpone the routing of the pylons, the issue will have a negative impact on the outcome of the local elections.
An EirGrid spokesman said he could not comment on when the decision would be made.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, who has complained about the quality of EirGrid's consultation with the public, said the next step was the conclusion of this process tomorrow. "Any commentary in advance of analysis of the submissions received is purely speculative. I expect to meet the board and senior management of EirGrid later this week," he said.
Meanwhile, dozens of lobbying groups have formed an alliance to oppose the installation of monster pylons and wind farms in the countryside, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Representatives from 40 groups against pylons, wind farms and substations met yesterday in Treacey's Hotel, Enniscorthy, where they decided they would form a united front.
Spokesperson for Rethink Pylons Kieran Hartley told the Irish Independent that the group represented the views of up to 50,000 people.
The new anti-pylon alliance plans to put forward candidates in the local and European elections "if the necessity is there".
In the meantime, it is planning a protest march in February, beginning at the EirGrid offices in Ballsbridge and culminating at the French and British embassies and the Dail.
The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign said that while it did not have any political affiliations, it intended to ask its members to support politicians who are against EirGrid's desire to erect overhead pylons and power lines, and to inform them of such.