There was a frosty reaction yesterday from anti-pylon campaign groups to Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte’s announced review of the overhead versus underground option for EirGrid’s Grid Link and Grid West electricity cabelling projects.
“We are not surprised they’ve pulled this stroke,” said Paddy Massey, a spokesman for rethinkpylons.org, a campaign group in Lismore, Co Waterford, that is working on the issue there and seeking to draw together other groups opposed to Grid Link in the southeast and anti-pylon groups elsewhere in the country. “It is not addressing the bigger issue, which is wind farms and the exporting of electricity. It’s akin to treating the symptoms of an illness but not treating the cause.”
The review, which the Government maintains is independent, will involve a panel headed by former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness and include economists John FitzGerald of the Economic and Social Research Institute, and Colm McCarthy, Prof Keith Ball of the department of electronic and electrical engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, and Dr Karen Foley, head of UCD’s school of landscape architecture.
As part of the review, EirGrid will report on the merits or otherwise of cabelling by pylon or underground. Key aspects of their report will examine practicalities, costs and safety. Health is not specifically included in their remit but Mrs McGuinness has said the panel will take an interest in this aspect of the project.
Pylon projects covered include Grid Link, the Munster/Leinster project in the southeast, and Grid West, the Mayo/Roscommon project in the northwest. The North-South interconnector pylon project is not included in the review and the Government expects it to proceed as already outlined, despite local opposition.
Mr Massey said he saw little value is making submissions to the panel as 35,000 submissions had already been made to EirGrid and since the close of submissions.
“Until they start to address the major concerns, which are about Ireland’s renewable energy plans, we have no confidence in this process,” he said last night.
“We are putting all our eggs in one basket – wind energy – with looking at all the other forms of renewable energy. There are a multiple of things that could be done.”
Another opposition group, south Kilkenny-based Carrigeen Against Pylons, questioned how EirGrid could be involved in a review when the company was already working to its preference which is using pylons that are up to 60m tall.
“EirGrid have no intention of undergrounding as evidenced by the comment that it won’t hold up selection of the routes,” Kath O’Brien of the group said last night in comments sent to all members of the Oireachtas.
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