EirGrid have been accused of treating the north Mayo community ‘with complete contempt’ despite scaling back significantly on their Grid West project.
After many years of planning, Eirgrid announced on Friday that due to ‘the lower than expected amounts of wind generation in the North Connacht region’, they were to replace their €240 million Grid West electricity transmission project with a smaller-scale development.
This means renewable generation can now be connected through the development of a lower voltage, 110 kV line carried on traditional timber poles and not the 220 kV or 400 kV schemes previously proposed under Grid West.
“Our planning team continually assesses the need to develop the grid and it is clear that as a result of a recent review, the Grid West project is no longer required,” said Rosemary Steen, EirGrid Director of External Affairs
“Landowners and communities in the region have been waiting some time for a decision on the Grid West project. We look forward to working in partnership with them to identify the best possible approach in developing robust electricity infrastructure in the region,” she said.
When the project was first envisaged in 2012, it was proposed to connect large amounts of renewable energy to the grid and included plans for a high capacity powerline to run through the northern part of the county to the transmission grid in Flagford in Co Roscommon.
This led to concern in areas where the high power capacity lines were to pass through and the Moy Valley Protection Group was formed to highlight these concerns.
However despite the decision to replace the Grid West project, the Moy Valley Protection Group said they condemned ‘in the strongest terms’ the latest announcement.
Eddie Farrell, the Chairman of the Moy Valley Protection Group accused EirGrid of acting with ‘dishonesty and deceit’ and said his group could not work as partners with them.
“The Moy Valley Protection Group say that EirGrid’s behaviour in the lead up to this announcement and the mechanics of the announcement itself shows that nothing has changed with EirGrid’s approach. As usual it is ignoring local communities and land owners. We can expect that once again they will pretend to engage with communities/landowners and further pretend that they will be able to influence the decision making process,” he said in a statement.
‘No need for Grid West’
Mr Farrell said that because phase two of the Oweninney Wind Farm and the whole of the Cluddaun Wind Farm failed to get planning permission there was now no need for Grid West.
“As usual EirGrid continues to pretend that Grid West will enhance the attractiveness of Mayo in which to live work and invest. This again show sthat nothing has changed with EirGrid’s approach as it continues to spout fake arguments.
“Rosemary Steen said today ‘it is clear that as a result of the recent review, the Grid West is no longer required’. The Moy Valley Protection Group from its own reviews came to the same conclusion five years ago. It is disappointing that a Government body with its resources has taken so long to catch up with us.”
Mayo County Council’s Chief Executive, Peter Hynes welcomed the announcement saying it will cater for the bulk of the county’s renewable energy needs.
“This is a very welcome step forward which will expedite the delivery of a much needed upgrade to the electrical infrastructure in the County. It will cater for the vast bulk of our renewable energy generation needs and will provide significant capacity for industrial development in the short and medium term,” he said.
Cllr Richard Finn, Cathaoirleach of the Council said ‘it is good to see that community concerns had been taken on board’.
EirGrid briefed Mayo County Council management following the press conference and are expected to provide a full presentation to a meeting of Mayo County Council in the coming weeks. EirGrid’s announcement was described as the ‘last news we need’ by Council for the West chairman Declan O’Callaghan, who said the lack of top quality power was a ‘disincentive to investment’. It is expected that planning permission will be sought for the revised project in 2019.
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