Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 15 October 2018

'There’s no way this line will be built' – Anti pylon groups vow to oppose Eirgrid’s interconnector

EirGrid’s compensation offers amount to a ‘Declaration of War’ according to campaigners

The plan uses overhead cables

Michael Fisher

The decision to approve the northern section of the interconnector in Armagh and Tyrone has made anti pylon campaigners in three counties in the Republic even more determined to oppose EirGrid’s plans.

“If the landowners stick together, there’s no way this line will be built,” according to Padraig O’Reilly of the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign, representing the interests of objectors from Meath, Cavan and a part of Co. Monaghan. He was speaking at a meeting on Monday night of landowners affected by the pylon plan in the Kingscourt area of Co. Cavan.

Both the NEPPC and its related group, the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee, are adamant that farmers and landowners will refuse EirGrid or its agents access to their lands when the company attempts to begin construction of the 400kV high voltage line.

Nigel Hillis of the CMPAC said: “The planning approval in the North changes nothing as far as the local landowners in Monaghan are concerned. There is zero acceptance for the pylons. The landowners remain totally resolute, as a meeting last November in Lough Egish showed. That will remain their position.”

Mr Hillis said EirGrid would probably go full steam ahead now with the project. But he did not see how they could progress when they could not get access to property they needed to traverse to carry out the construction work for the pylons.

“They don’t have planning permission for the 584 access routes, so EirGrid’s liaison officers can’t negotiate with them.” He said he could foresee standoff situations developing at farm entrances.

“Let me make it clear to EirGrid. The landowners – 97% of them – absolutely and totally object to the pylons plan and remain steadfast. They will resist the overhead line to their utmost and will not allow EirGrid access,” Mr Hillis said.

'Triumphalism'

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Mr Hillis also replied to comments made by EirGrid Director of Communications David Martin last week in which he indicated that a planning decision in the North was imminent.

Mr Martin was interviewed on the Michael Reade show on (Louth Meath) LMFM, a programme sponsored by EirGrid.

Edgar Eakin is very unhappy with Eirgrid who have just got the green light from the planning board to put power lines across his farm in Corduff in Co Monaghan. And like most of his neighbours, is considering how best to fight the decision. Edgar and Carol Eakin on their farm at Corduff, Co. Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Edgar Eakin is very unhappy with Eirgrid who have just got the green light from the planning board to put power lines across his farm in Corduff in Co Monaghan. And like most of his neighbours, is considering how best to fight the decision. Edgar and Carol Eakin on their farm at Corduff, Co. Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Mr Hillis stated: “County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee were truly shocked on listening back to the LMFM interview at the sheer triumphalism in the tone and tenor of Mr Martin’s voice with regard to the recent High Court refusal of the NEPPC’s application to bring a further appeal to a Superior Court on the grounds of overwhelming public interest.

The EirGrid spokesperson claimed that there were now no further obstacles in the way and construction would commence in autumn of this year.”

“At one point in the interview when asked: ‘So there is no obstacle?’, Mr Martin replied with an audible laugh: ‘None that I am aware of, anyway, at this point in time.’ He was also supremely confident that planning approval would be forthcoming in the next few weeks in Northern Ireland.”

“What really shocked us the most, in political terms, was his revelation that the two current government studies (ordered last year by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D.) will serve to rubber stamp the project as an overhead line and will give guidance in terms of compensating landowners. This now totally vindicates our position in rejecting the invitation to meet the so-called Independent Expert Group (IEG) that is reviewing the plans.”

Read also: Farmer on why he'd rather go to jail than allow pylons 'see the light of day'

'Flash the cheque book'

In the LMFM interview EirGrid he said showed their intentions with their fall back position of ‘flash the cheque book’. Mr Martin stated that cheques would be signed in the autumn.

 The state owned company also announced on its website details of compensation that would be payable to households living up to 200m from the proposed high voltage line, as well as payments to voluntary community groups in the areas close to the proposed pylons.

CMAPC says it will bring the landowners together in the coming weeks to fully inform them of the import of this interview. Mr Hillis described it as “nothing less than a declaration of war by EirGrid on the communities and landowners whom they see as venal people who can easily be bought off by opening their cheque book. They (EirGrid) have learned absolutely nothing in the last ten years,” he concluded.

Divide and conquer

According to the NEPPC’s Padraig O’Reilly, EirGrid’s plans are to divide and conquer communities with compensation and propaganda.

“The company’s plan is to ‘sit down with the Irish Farmers’ Association and strike a deal’ on compensation as they recognise that farmers will have to ‘take a hit’.

But the NEPPC has already met the IFA and it supports the NEPPC position of standing alongside its farmers in solidarity against EirGrid’s unnecessary and unwanted project.

If Eirgrid wants to ‘strike a deal’ it will have to so with NEPPC and the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee on undergrounding the lines”, he said.

“EirGrid also plans to use electricity consumers’ monies from our ESB bills to hand out payments to local community organizations in a bid to bribe communities into acceptance of the company’s 400,000 volt lines and pylons.

"It is not acceptable for a monopoly semi-state company to make unaccountable and unchallenged decisions to hand out vast sums of electricity consumers’ monies as a means of furthering its own agenda”, the NEPPC spokesman added.

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


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