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Monday 17 June 2019

‘Communities must have an input – but EirGrid should step back from the process’

Metres from a proposed pylon site – Knockmore farmer Dermot McHale and his family, wife Aileen, son Patrick, and daughter Aisling. Picture: Henry Wills
Metres from a proposed pylon site – Knockmore farmer Dermot McHale and his family, wife Aileen, son Patrick, and daughter Aisling. Picture: Henry Wills
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

MARRIED father-of-two Dermot McHale (40) and his two brothers will be among hundreds of families affected by plans to build a 130km power line between Mayo and Roscommon.

Health concerns, visual impact and questions as to why communities are being forced to accept pylons to transmit wind energy are among his reasons for opposing the plans.

From Currabaggan East in Knockmore, Co Mayo, both he and his two brothers are directly affected by EirGrid’s proposals to upgrade the national grid.

“I built my house in 2005 with my wife Aileen,” he said. “I have worked locally since 1993 because I wanted to farm, and I’ve 25 acres which I inherited from my dad three years ago.

“My brother John emigrated in 1998 and came back and bought a farm three miles away in Coolcronan five or six years ago. EirGrid proposes building the line between the house and his shed.

“I’ve another brother Michael James who works in a sheltered employment scheme, and we’ve built a little bungalow for him about 100 metres away from us. There’ll be a pylon 80 metres from his house.”

Dermot is involved in the Knockmore Committee Against Pylons, which is closely linked with another eight lobby groups in the area. He believes that EirGrid should have no role in the expert group examining the pylons issue, and said any compensation offered won’t change his mind.

“I’m very sceptical of it. I think the communities should have an input into the terms of reference. EirGrid should step back from the study.

“The money won’t make a difference. What they should be looking into is the renewable energy strategy and the Grid 25 project. If they’re not looking into those, I think it’s only a

box-ticking exercise.

“If they haven’t a way to take the power that doesn’t impact on the community they should leave it there. The whole thing is flawed. Undergrounding is an option.”

He says his home was not on the original route of the line, but became affected last October when changes were made.

Two schools will also be affected, and he holds a deep dislike of the 45-metre pylons which may overshadow his home.

“They’re disgusting. I remember the first time I saw them in Kilrush, Co Clare, when I went to buy a plough. It just hit me, wham! I was horrified.

“The jury is out on health concerns. The best they can come back with is saying it’s inconclusive. If a farmer had a bullock which was inconclusive for TB, they’d be locked down.

“Asbestos sheeting still makes the best roof, but that’s been proved to be dangerous. With the advances there is in science, there will be improvements.

“Some people might be able to live underneath one, but others might be affected terribly. Whether there is a link or there isn’t, there’s a suspicion and that’s enough.”

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