More than half of Government TDs living in constituencies along Eirgrid’s 250km planned power route in Munster and Leinster would not live near the proposed giant pylons or high voltage lines.
Almost three-quarters of Coalition TDs in areas along the proposed routes also said they thought the GridLink project – running from Cork to Wicklow – would damage the country’s landscape and harm tourism.
The Irish Examiner contacted the 21 Government TDs in the eight constituencies through which the power line routes could pass, according to Eirgrid’s map. Of these, 18 responded to calls and queries.
More than half of the politicians said they would not live near the proposed pylons and 250km high-voltage overhead power lines, while 72% said the project in its current form would damage the landscape and tourism.
Some said an independent analysis of the potential effect of electromagnetic radiation on areas should be carried out by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland or by the EU.
Others queried the need for the huge grid extension and whether the domestic energy market needs it.
Several said power lines should be built alongside motorways. An analysis could be done on the existing 400kV Clare to Kildare power line as a template for the project, others said.
But the large proportion of Government TDs refusing to live near lines will anger residents opposed to the Coalition’s €500m plan to extend the power grid. Fine Gael TDs had mixed views.
Carlow-Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan said: “I wouldn’t be happy about living beside one of them. I’m also thinking of the devaluation of the property.”
Waterford TD Paudie Coffey, who used to work for the ESB, said: “If I had a choice I wouldn’t [live beside one].”
Fine Gael party chair Charlie Flanagan said he would, even though the Laois-Offaly TD said he had written to the Health Minister to ask about health risks with lines.
“I wouldn’t have health concerns living beside one. I would, if it was a nice house, yes. The fact there’s pylons there doesn’t concern me. I don’t know anyone whose ears were fried living beside a pylon.”
Government chief whip Paul Kehoe did not know if he could live beside the pylons. “I don’t think I’d have a choice if Eirgrid decided,” said the Wexford TD.
Constituency colleague Liam Twomey said he would not live within 100m of a pylon: “Electromagnetic radiation is about distance. There’s no obvious cause for concern but there remains a question mark if you live close.”
Cork East TD David Stanton said he would not live beside them but he also cautioned against scaremongering: “The phone on my ear might give me a dose of more radiation than those would.”
Junior jobs minister Sean Sherlock, a constituency colleague, would live near the proposed power lines. But the Labour TD was critical of Eirgrid and the lack of “hard and fast data”.
Ministers Brendan Howlin and Phil Hogan and TD John Deasy – also living in constituencies on potential routes – did not return calls.
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