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Mixture of relief and anger in the path of the pylons

THE revised plans for the electricity grid have brought a mixture of relief and further frustration across the country.

Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne accused the Government and Eirgrid of "abandoning the needs of north-east communities" by not considering alternatives to overhead power lines for the North-South Interconnector.

"Under this plan, Eirgrid proposes to upgrade some existing lines as part of the Grid Link project in the south-east. Meanwhile, Eirgrid also plans to move much of the power lines in the Grid West project underground.

"Why is it then that these alternatives are not an option in the north-east?"

Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy added: "It had previously been stated that the undergrounding option for the North-South Interconnector was not an option due to technical concerns.

"From the proposals for the Grid West project, we now see that this is a possibility."

But employer body Ibec welcomed the plan and said it was vital for developing Ireland's energy infrastructure.

Head of Infrastructure Dr Neil Walker said: "Our members agree that the new interconnector should be an overhead line. Putting it underground, despite being more costly for electricity users, simply wouldn't do the job."

Meanwhile, community action groups in south-east, which have been battling plans for overground pylons as part of the Grid Link scheme, welcomed the proposal to consider alternative options to overhead pylons.

"It's very positive that the concerns of the people have been taken onboard and this review has been done," David O'Brien from the Grid Link Action Group said.

"One of the most significant developments is the finding that going underground is considerably cheaper - around €200m or €250m cheaper than originally estimated."

Fine Gael TD for Carlow-Kilkenny John Paul Phelan also welcomed the fact that an upgrade of the power lines was now being considered.

"Advances in technology mean that the Grid Link project in the south-east, which had led to unprecedented opposition to building massive pylons, now includes the option of upgrading power lines," he said.

"I argued all along that these pylons were not required to meet current and future demand."

Irish Independent