Friday 24 November 2017

Ministers plan to find out why the public opposes pylons, windfarms

Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Tom Burke
Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Tom Burke
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

THE Government has commissioned research to look at why people don't like big infrastructure projects like electricity pylons and windfarms.

The news threatens to reignite the row over the Coalition's handling of the pylon controversy earlier this year.

Last night Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte said officials from his own department, Phil Hogan's Department of the Environment, and the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) are now looking at what he described as "best practice in other countries in the area of societal acceptance and community engagement in infrastructure projects."

Findings of research commissioned by the NESC, a body that advises the Taoiseach, are due for publication "immin-ently," the minister said.

Minister Rabbitte made the comments in a speech to engineers at UCD, where he stressed the importance of access to affordable and dependable energy supplies.

Critics are likely to see the research as evidence of a renewed push to "sell" the proposed Grid Link (Cork to Kildare via Wexford) and Grid West (Mayo to Roscommon) electricity inter-connector projects to what has proved to be a sceptical, even antagonistic public.

Anti-pylon campaigners and groups opposed to wind turbines have emerged as a formidable lobby over the past year in particular.

The Government has already bowed to pressure from campaigners by establishing a high level independent review chaired by former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness to look at the possibility of cables for the electricity interconnectors being buried underground rather than carried on the unpopular pylons.

Irish Independent

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