Tuesday 20 February 2018

Anti-pylon group fails to stop hearing on north-south electricity interconnector

Pylon plans have triggered objections across the country. Photo: PA
Pylon plans have triggered objections across the country. Photo: PA

Greg Harkin

Anti-pylon campaigners have failed in a bid to stop a planning inquiry into a huge new north-south electricity interconnector that could lead to the erection of 299 pylons across three counties.

Members of GAA clubs, farmers and residents were among 150 people who attended the first day of an oral hearing into the planning application at the Nuremore Hotel in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, yesterday.

Earlier, lawyers acting for the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) had failed in their High Court attempt to get an injunction stopping the An Bord Pleanála (ABP) hearing.

Their barrister, Patrick Neilan, told ABP inspector and chairperson of the hearing, Brid Gannon, that the injunction had been refused but leave for a full hearing on March 18 had been granted.

Ms Gannon and fellow ABP inspector Deirdre McGowan are expected to take up to 12 weeks to hear submissions from more than 900 groups or residents. Many are objecting to the €286m plan to erect the pylons - some 56m high - along a route between Woodland, near Batterstown, Co Meath, to Clontibret, Co Monaghan.

EirGrid planner Des Cox told the hearing the new planned route was chosen to avoid homes, nature reserves, lakes and historical sites.

Jarlath Fitzsimons, senior counsel for Eirgrid, said an original proposal for the interconnector had been put forward in 2009 and withdrawn the following year.

The NEPCC's legal challenge was based on the fact that, although EirGrid had made the planning application, the work would be carried out by ESB Networks.

Campaigners want the interconnector put underground, with independent experts saying that this would cost an additional €500m.

EirGrid says this option would also make the link less efficient.

The hearing continues today.

Irish Independent

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