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Plans for power line to UK close to controverisal pylon route

A private wind energy company has submitted plans to build a major new power interconnector close to a key site on EirGrid’s controversial Grid Link route, the Sunday Independent has learned.

The proposal by Greenwire to the European Transmissions System Operations of Electricity (ENTSO-E) would allow for the construction of a second interconnector at Dunstown in Co Kildare, doubling up on the one already proposed by EirGrid as part of its Grid Link project.

Anti-pylon protesters say the move confirms fears that EirGrid’s Grid Link proposals – which involve the construction of a super-highway of giant 43-metre pylons across huge swathes of the countryside – are just the “tip of the iceberg” of plans that would turn the region into a “spaghetti junction” for power lines.

“This is a very significant potential increase in infrastructure for the area,” a spokesman for the Grid Link Action Group said.

To date, EirGrid has denied there will be any link between any of the Grid 25 projects, which include Grid Link and separate private projects to export electricity to the UK.

However, the Grid Link Action Group insists the Greenwire submission is decisive move in this direction.

“It seems very coincidental that Greenwire has put forward a proposal to build a connector station where EirGrid has also got a proposal to build one,” the spokesman said. “And that Dunstown just so happens to be a key junction for all the electricity coming from the west of Ireland; in from Moneypoint and from the proposed new ‘Grid Link’ Project.”

“This is very concerning to us because this is something we have been concerned about from the outset. There has been a lack of clarity with regard to the future plans by EirGrid and the other wind farm energy generating companies as to what is proposed to happen in the medium to long term with regard to both the development of the grid and the export of surplus energy to the UK.”

EirGrid initially dismissed the option of undergrounding the Grid Link project due to cost. However, following a huge public outcry, the Government set up an independent panel to examine overground and underground options for the project. Earlier this month the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) said undergrounding high-voltage power lines should only be considered as a last resort.

But while EirGrid’s current proposals look set to transport power into Dunstown via hundreds of proposed 43 metre high pylons – wind energy company Greenwire has promised to transport power into the same area using underground cables.

“The interconnector application allows for a new interconnector to be built which shares some of the capacity on the Greenwire sub-sea cables in order to allow trade of power between UK and Ireland in the same way as traders currently use the EirGrid East-West Interconnector,” a spokesman for Greenwire said.

On top of its Grid Link pylon plans, EirGrid, has also submitted a proposal to connect the Dunstown power station to Pentir in Wales.

Now Greenwire has joined in on the action by submitting plans for a separate interconnector to facilitate the export of power from Dunstown to Pembroke in Wales by 2018. This is despite the collapse of talks between the Irish and British governments last March on a proposed deal which would have seen up to 2,300 wind turbines built across the midlands, to supply the UK electricity market.