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Friday 29 August 2014

Sparks set to fly over €500m super-pylon network plans

Ralph Riegel

Published 15/07/2014 | 02:30

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There has been strong objections to pylons. Photo: Getty Images
There has been strong objections to pylons. Photo: Getty Images

EIRGRID'S plan for a 250km high-voltage super-pylon network costing €500m faces being thrown into chaos over warnings that a potential route jeopardises a top UNESCO 'Geopark'.

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The EirGrid pylon proposal runs from Cork to Wexford and then onward to Kildare. To date, no specific route has been chosen.

However, the proposal has met with vehement opposition in parts of Cork and Waterford, with over 35,000 submissions already lodged to EirGrid.

Now, the Waterford-based Comeraghs Against Pylons (CAP) group has released specially commissioned photos of the visual impact it claims the super pylons will have on one of Ireland's most famous natural beauty spots.

CAP also claimed the potential route will jeopardise the UNESCO 'Geopark' by the Copper Coast outside Dungarvan.

"EirGrid suggesting that they might attempt to route these pylons across the face of the Comeragh Mountains is a blatant act of environmental vandalism and won't be allowed to happen by the local Comeragh communities," CAP chairman, John McCusker said.

Mr McCusker warned that "the impact on the environment and tourism of the proposed pylon corridor in the Comeraghs will jeopardise the status and development of Ireland's UNESCO 'Geopark' at the Copper Coast".

The Waterford habitat is one of only three 'Geoparks' of its type recognised in Ireland and Britain by UNESCO – and the Copper Coast has in recent years been liaising with the UN body on an exciting expansion plan into the Comeraghs focusing on unique glacial formations of the River Tay and River Mahon valleys.

The UNESCO documentation, seen by the Irish Independent, acknowledged that "the Copper Coast is probably the best example of a Geopark" and that the west Waterford countryside around the Comeraghs is "one of the finest glacial landscapes in Ireland and of international importance". The area also has the second highest density of Bronze Age settlements in Ireland.

EirGrid has repeatedly insisted it will carefully liaise with local communities and take their concerns into account.

Electricity

"We hope to go to public consultation later this year on overhead and underground routes and we look forward to continuing to work with local representatives and groups to address community concern," an EirGrid spokesman said.

"It is important to stress that no decision has been made on either the route of the line, if it was to proceed overhead, or on the types of pylons that would be used." EirGrid has also stressed the new grid is vital to Ireland's future energy needs.

But CAP said it was "shocked and concerned" that the narrow corridor between the Comeragh Mountains and the sea – just 7km wide at points – might have to cater for three electricity pylon grids, a 110KV, a 220KV and the new 400KV grid.

All three will converge and criss-cross each other at one of the starting points of the picturesque tourist trail 'the Comeragh Drive' at the famous 'Pike Bend,' This is simply unbelievable and totally unacceptable," Mr McCusker said.

Irish Independent

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