Government must listen to rural objectors as pylon conflict builds
Last year, the McHale family from Currabaggan near Ballina in Co Mayo set about building a house for their special needs brother. They wanted a modest three-bedroom bungalow where Michael James could live and be cared for close to his family home.
Mayo County Council granted planning permission for the house subject to six conditions, which included direction on the height of the bungalow's roof and the septic tank system installed. The family met every one of the council's conditions and Michael James's house is now finally ready for him to move in.
On October 7, the McHale family were informed for the very first time that EirGrid planned to run its 400kv electricity line through the property. The view from Michael James's brand new kitchen window will be of a 45m-high pylon located 100m away.
The pylon does not require planning permission from Mayo County Council because it is part of the €3.2bn upgrade of the electrical network that is deemed to be of strategic national importance, which means it goes straight to An Bord Pleanála.
It is this by-passing of local and individual concerns that has infuriated rural dwellers in Co Mayo and every county affected by EirGrid's proposed network of high voltage lines and metal pylons.
The scale of the upgrade is so immense that it has been divided into four individual proposals.
Grid Link involves over 250km of high voltage lines held up by 750 massive pylons, running through Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Laois, Carlow, Wicklow, Kildare and Dublin.
Grid West would have 100km of line and 300 pylons running through Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim. The Meath-Tyrone line would have 140km of line and 410 pylons linking Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh and Tyrone, while the Laois-Kilkenny line would run for 26km and include 80 pylons.