The Grid Link power line route corridor option passing through the scenic Knockmealdowns/Galtee valley is 30 per cent longer than the most direct route through Co. Waterford, a senior Eirgrid manager admitted last week.
Grid Link project manager John Lowry informed a South Tipperary Co. Council meeting there was this difference between the shortest route corridor option from Cork to Dungarvan to Waterford and Great Island in Wexford compared with the longest route option that travels from Fermoy into South Tipperary passing through parts of Ballyporeen, Burncourt, Ballylooby, south of Cahir and over to communities like Clerihan and Ballypatrick.
He was responding to Cllr Marie Murphy from Clogheen, who said if the route corridor through communities in her area was selected, the power line would go through two areas of protected scenic views, namely from Kilcoran to the Knockmealdowns and Kilsheelan to Slievenamon.
“This line will be a blight in the landscape. There are families in my area who can’t get planning permission for houses even though land is in their ownership for generations,” she said.
Cllr Murphy referred to an Irish Times report of a case Eirgrid brought against Laois Co. Council in 2011 over its policy requiring 400kv power lines to be placed underground. Eirgrid’s senior counsel in that report said Eirgrid was not opposed to placing powerlines underground in areas of scenic beauty. The area between the Knockmealdowns and Galtees was such an area.
Cllr Murphy’s objections were echoed by her fellow councillors, who were overwhelmingly opposed to either of the two proposed powerline routes passing through South Tipperary. Mr Lowry said while they had to keep costs to a minimum there was major physical challenges associated with the shortest route and they had to consider alternatives. There was a major “pinch point ” in terms of area available for the power line where the coast meets the Comeragh Mountains near Dungarvan, he explained.