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I'll take notice next time I see the ESB around

Beware. They're coming to a field near you and it could actually be yours. I believe that farmers should be aware of the current roll-out of large, unsightly automated switch gear by the ESB around the countryside.

For me it all started last September when I received a brief phone call from the ESB saying that they wanted to replace a pole on my farm. They also mentioned something about a switch that, in spite of my asking some questions, I was unable to visualise.

When they arrived to carry out the work in early October, I was away from home. The work crew contacted me by phone and I told them to go ahead and break the lock.

A pole was replaced, it was commissioned some days later and new fittings were installed on adjoining poles. To my surprise a 25m earth wire was also laid. When they finished no one contacted me, so I presumed that all works had been completed.

Fast forward five months to the morning of Monday, March 4. I had just stepped out of my cattle shed to take a phone call when I noticed some ESB trucks in my field near the local village and, as no one had contacted me, I presumed it was a repair crew.

Words cannot express my sense of disbelief when I drove up to the village a day or so later and saw the eyesore which they had erected on what is the most visible and elevated part of my farm.

I immediately rang their contact number and subsequently met with two different ESB representatives. On both occasions I drew their attention to the contents of the ESB's Code of Practice in relation to access to land or property and pointed out that the ESB had not adhered to it.

In a 'circle the wagons' type reaction, both representatives persisted in claiming that the short phone call made nearly six months earlier in relation to work that I believed had been fully completed was sufficient notice for their recent visit to my farm. When queried further they both insisted that this phone call also satisfied the conditions set out in their code of practice.

The code of practice states clearly that the "ESB will take reasonable steps to contact the owner of the lands (or premises) before entering private lands (or premises)" and also that "The owners of the land (or premises) will be dealt with honestly and fairly".

I'll let readers draw their own conclusions.

They also rejected my assertion that their installation was an eyesore, despite blatantly obvious evidence to the contrary.

The irony is that if they had extended the courtesy of a meeting to me, I am confident that the installation could have been erected on a far less conspicuous part of my farm.

From a health and safety perspective, the placing of electrical installations around two metres above field level, in an area easily accessed from the public road, makes no sense at all. I also find the obvious danger which these low electrical fittings pose to my farm stock to be wholly unacceptable.

Perhaps my old-fashioned interpretation of the word "honesty" is no longer relevant in the business world of 2013.

All that I can say to other farmers is: beware.


Irish Independent