Monday 9 December 2019

County councillors plan to revolt over pylons plan

Health concerns are the main cause for complaints
Health concerns are the main cause for complaints

Joanna Kiernan

THE Government is facing a revolt from its own county councillors if controversial plans to erect a 'super-highway' of giant metal pylons across the countryside are given the green light.

Fine Gael grassroots have warned Taoiseach Enda Kenny that post-election plans to kick-start the EirGrid projects will be faced down by his own party grassroots.

The pylon plans were put on the back burner earlier this year and have not been a big issue in the local and European election campaigns.

But opponents fear the EirGrid proposals will gather new impetus once the elections are over.

Local representatives around the country have moved to stem the progress of EirGrid's project, which will run from Knockraha, Co Cork, to Dunstown, Co Kildare.

Councillors in counties Kildare and Wexford – through which the proposed Grid Link route will run – have attempted to hinder the plans in the run-up to this week's local elections.

A little less than two weeks ago, members of Kildare County Council passed a unanimous motion to reopen their county development plan in order to specifically address EirGrid's plans to run hundreds of 43-metre-high pylons through their county.

"We feel the county development plan is insufficient in protecting the county from the proliferation of this infrastructure," FG councillor Ivan Keatley told the Sunday Independent. "Kildare is in a particularly vulnerable position. It's going to be subject to a concentration of a lot of this type of construction because of the fact that it is so near to Dublin and because Dunstown is in the centre of our county and that's where all of these lines are going to end up," Mr Keatley said.

"We need to give the people of Kildare a say in how their county development plan reflects the challenges it's going to be under in the next number of years."

The move by Kildare County Council is at odds with the directions in a letter received by all county councils last December, which was sent by Terry Sheridan, principal officer of the Department of the Environment, and which strongly advised members against amending their county development plans. The Grid Link Action Group is advising residents in Kildare to make submissions to its county council and will be providing assistance through its website as well as arranging workshops on the subject over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, county councillors in Wexford last week voted to employ a different tactic, when they unanimously passed a motion to increase the development levies EirGrid will have to pay per pylon, per year, from €2,500 to €100,000.

"This might not deter EirGrid from going ahead with the pylons they have planned for our area but it might make them think more about undergrounding them," FG councillor Larry O'Brien said.

Sunday Independent

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