Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

'Patronising' EirGrid face a pylon fight

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Farmers are preparing for a protracted battle against EirGrid plans to build a network of 45m-high pylons carrying high voltage cables across the country.

ICMSA president John Comer said the semi-state body's "patronising attitude" towards the concerns of rural people in the pathway of proposed high voltage lines was infuriating.

"There is a very real sense that as far as Eirgrid -- and to a lesser extent, the State -- is concerned, that the matter has been settled and that us poor culchies are just going to have to deal with a decision already made," said Mr Comer.

"But this is going to be resisted. People do not want seven-storey Incredible Hulk-style structures on their doorsteps."

Mr Comer insisted that while everyone accepted the need for the ongoing upgrade of power supplies, Minister Coveney needed to use his influence on government to see sense on the pylon plan "before the real fight starts and the real damage is done".

Speaking from the floor at the ICMSA annual general meeting on Friday, one Kilkenny farmer held up two photographs to illustrate his point.


The first was of the Teagasc Greenfield farm and the second was of a line of 45m high pylons running across farmland.

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"Which one of these photos would you like to show the Chinese when they come over Minister?" he asked.

Another farmer warned Minister Coveney that "the depth of feeling that's out there among farmers is incredible. Farmers are willing to go to any lengths on this issue."

Minister Coveney rejected allegations that EirGrid's proposed pylons would damage Ireland's reputation as a clean and green country for food production.

"There is already a 400kv line running across north Kerry and as far as I'm aware there has been no dramatic damage to the agriculture sector there," he said.

"This is big infrastructure and it's very visual and I accept that people don't want to look at it but there is no simplistic, easy solution to this.

"People say just put it all underground but that would result in significant additional expenditure and real technical issues," maintained the minister.

Irish Independent