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Friday 19 September 2014

Pylon rallies will hurt chances of investment - Coveney

Daniel McConnell and Joanna Kiernan

Published 09/01/2014 | 02:30

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Electricity pylons across the countryside
Electricity pylons across the countryside

AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney has claimed pylon protesters will damage Ireland's international reputation and turn major investors away.

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Mr Coveney echoed the comments of Taoiseach Enda Kenny earlier this week, which proved hugely controversial when he linked the pylon debate to emigration.

Mr Coveney continued the divisive debate, claiming there was an impression that Ireland was a difficult place to invest because of such protests.

EirGrid proposes to build hundreds of kilometers of electricity pylons stretching from Munster through to Leinster.

Under the controversial plans for Grid Link, a 250km high-voltage overhead power line would be built through counties Cork, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.

Mr Coveney compared the protest engulfing the pylon controversy to the Corrib Gas saga, which he said was "very damaging".

"I think investors do look at Ireland and say if you are to develop significant energy based infrastructure, Ireland is a difficult place to do it. I think it is unfortunate," he said.

SIGNAL

Mr Coveney claimed that such protests sent out a bad signal from Ireland to such investors, who, he said, were critical to the creation of jobs in regions that most need them.

"That has been very unfortunate. It is not a good signal for Ireland as a progressive, open economy that wants to grow.

"Likewise, we need and have potential for growth in the renewable sector but in order to facilitate that we have to put infrastructure in place," he added.

Meanwhile, there were calls last night for EirGrid project manager John Lowry to resign after he said the type of power generated and used here meant the cables could not be run underground.

He said: "What we have on the transmission system is what we call AC (alternating current) electricity. That's the electricity that is generated by every power station across the country, it's the power that comes into all of our homes. To do this project using that electricity is not technically feasible."

Kieran Connors, chairman of the Grid Link Action Group, rejected Mr Lowry's comments.

"We are fed up with his mis-information time and time again, but this is the final straw.

"He no longer holds the faith of the people. We know the underground system is possible," Mr Connors said.

Irish Independent

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