Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Farmers may use 'strong-arm' tactics to block pylons in €380m cross-border electricity connector

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Patsy McArdle

Farmers and landowners across some border counties, in the Republic and the North, are considering ‘strong-arm’ tactics to block a huge electricity scheme.

They are furious over a recent Dublin High Court ruling which approved plans for the scheme, after it was challenged by the North East Anti-pylon Campaign Committee.

Locals labelled the decision to refuse an objection against the construction of the electricity connector as "outrageous".

Farmers are claiming the pylons, with overhead power lines, proposed by EirGrid, would pose a huge environmental threat, and present other problems as well as causing devaluation to their property.

While the recent decision by the High Court to reject a challenge by the North East group, against An Bord Pleanala’s decision to provide planning permission for the  €380m overhead North-South scheme,  is to be appealed, it has now emerged that several landowners in counties Meath, Monaghan, and Cavan have held “private talks” aimed at “disrupting” the scheme and preventing it from going ahead.

It is understood they are planning to act independently, and  are not connected to any political organisation or group, although it is believed they may have the support of some 'militant'  Irish Farmers Association members in the region.

The landowners have already declared they are not opposed to the scheme, but are demanding that the power lines should go underground.

Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has declared his support for the opposition to the erection of the pylons and overhead power-lines.

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He said he felt the North South Interconnector “cannot proceed” unless it is underground, and he added he was not in favour of the High Court court ruling.

“The North-South Interconnector is a project of significant importance for the whole island and its energy market. However, it will never go ahead unless it is underground.

“Communities across Cavan, Monaghan, Meath, Armagh, and Tyrone, have fought the plan to overground this project for a decade, and they will not give up now.

“Since this project was first mentioned, the costs of undergrounding the project have fallen dramatically to the point where it is arguably more efficient that constructing massive pylons while the technology that would allow undergrounding has been hugely advanced.

“Next month I will be hosting a delegation from all the counties involved in the anti-pylon campaign, including elected representatives and energy experts, to visit the Aachen-Liege project, which runs between Germany and Belgium.

“This project is comparable in many ways to the proposed EirGrid line but it is underground”.

He also said that the Government needs to understand how fiercely opposed local landowners and communities are to the project, as it currently stands, and their resolve to resist it.

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