A prominent local anti-pylons action group has called for communities affected by the Grid Link project to be involved in the independent review of Eirgrid’s ambitious powerline projects in the south and west.
The Comeragh Rathgormack K9 Pylon Prevention Group, campaigning against part of the Gridlink power line being locating in townlands close to Rathgormack and Carrick-on-Suir, said it had little or no confidence in the independent review unless it included some element of community participation to ensure all negative financial costs are included in its assessment.
“The remit of this independent grouping is too narrow in our view and gives us little confidence unless there is participation from all affected groups,” said the Group’s Chairman Walter Murphy.
South Tipperary Independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Seamus Healy dismissed the review as an attempt by the Government to make this controversial issue go away until after the local and European elections in May. Deputy Healy said the review was a political “stroke” that wasn’t independent of Eirgrid, which will prepare and supply engineering, technical and financial reports to the review panel. He criticised the fact the independent panel will only make recommendations to Minister Rabbitte, who has confirmed his view the powerline can’t be put underground. Deputy McGrath described the review as a “cynical and transparent play for time”.
“There is widespread concern and scepticism among the public that this so called expert review is an attempt to ‘pull the wool over our eyes’ until after the Local and European elections.
But Labour MEP Phil Prendergast and Senator Denis Landy disagreed. Ms Prendergast said the independent investigation showed the voices of the 35,000 businesses and individuals, who lodged submissions to EirGrid are being heard.
“This represents a significant victory for those of us who have been campaigning against the erection of these structures which will have a negative impact on health, business and the environmental landscape throughout the South and South-East.”
She said community groups, families and businesses should have the opportunity to give their opinions to the independent investigation.
Sen. Landy gave a cautious welcome to the review until independent commission’s terms of reference are published. “This decision by Government last week is a response to the efforts that I and other elected representatives within the Labour Party have made over the last number of months.
“We now need to see the terms of reference to ensure all issues pertaining to the cost comparison analysis are included such as effects on tourism, land and property devaluation, visual amenity, health etc.”
He also called for a broader review of Ireland’s energy needs for the next 50 years. “A Forum on Energy is the way forward which should take into account an assessment of our real energy requirements, advances in modern technology, EU guidelines and our alternative energy commitments.