A presentation on the Grid Link Project was made at the latest Wicklow County Council meeting last Tuesday.
The presentation was made by EirGrid – responsible for Ireland’s electricity grid – about a project that proposes linking the grids in Leinster and Munster through a new 400KV high voltage overhead power line. A number of routes for this new line have been identified, one of which cuts through west Wicklow. Upon completion this would boost the electricity supply throughout the county and by extension – according to EirGrid – benefit farming and industry in Wicklow. A number of open days have already been held throughout the county to gauge public opinion.
The project was described as a ‘disaster’ by Cllr Pat Doran, who believed that the visual impact of the power line would decimate the countryside as well as greatly reduce the value of nearby homes.
‘This shouldn’t come in when it’s going to destroy the countryside, and that’s what you’re going to do; destroy the countryside of the Garden County,’ he said. ‘If those [the power lines] are close to somebody’s house you might as well try to sell a second hand coffin. It’s a disaster.’
Cllr John Brady concurred with these sentiments while reiterating concerns about the potential health hazard posed by the power line.
‘There are a lot of concerns that I don’t think have been adequately dealt with with regards to the environmental and visual impact, but also the health risks,’ he claimed. ‘There are huge health concerns with regards to carcinogens backed up by international experts that have to be considered.’
Cllr James Ruttle was of a similar opinion, citing earlier incidences of power lines affecting health in Wicklow.
‘My area in west Wicklow experienced a very distressing time back in the seventies and eighties,’ he said. ‘There were very definitely health effects – one family had to leave completely because of it. There will also be huge environmental effects in a county of great tourism potential.’
Cllr Edward Timmins reiterated concerns about the impact the project would have on tourism in the area.
‘We pride ourselves on being them most beautiful county in Ireland,’ he stated. ‘It is a very scenic area and this project will have a major impact on it. This is bad news for tourism in the Garden of Ireland.’
Cllr Tom Cullen raised the point that the proposed route appeared to mirror the areas designated for wind farms, and that as such the power line would be used to transport power from the turbines. He also raised concerns that householders would not receive adequate compensation.
Cllr Pat Vance, however, recognised the positive aspects of a project that could bring much-needed employment to the county.
‘If we want employment and industry we need a bit of common sense,’ he insisted.
‘For every expert against this you’ll get another one for it. We need to get real if we want jobs and energy – our needs for energy are increasing.
‘I wouldn’t dismiss it [the project] out of hand.’
Feedback on the project will be accepted until November 26.
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