25 March 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Michael Fisher

Objectors to EirGrid’s plan to build a North/South interconnector withdrew this week from the Bord Pleanála oral hearing in Carrickmacross claiming it was a farce. On Tuesday the presiding inspector was dealing with the construction of the proposed line and associated temporary access roads in Monaghan, Cavan and Meath. Breda Gannon turned down a request to stop the proceedings which resumed at the Nuremore Hotel yesterday.

In an unexpected move on the eighth day of the hearing, EirGrid was given permission by the inspector to put forward new information containing modifications to temporary access routes at nineteen locations along the line. A consultant for EirGrid, Robert Arthur of ESB International, said for all these routes they would be making use of existing access onto land and no new land holdings would be involved. Mr Arthur then described ‘mapping anomalies’ that had arisen primarily from discrepancies in the translation of site vantage surveys onto the Environmental Impact Statement drawings.

A barrister for the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign Michael O’Donnell BL said the oral hearing had turned into a farce and called for it to be abandoned. He claimed a new public notice would now have to be issued about the development and this was the only appropriate manner under the planning act. The responses by Mr Arthur had been entirely inadequate and inappropriate, he said.

Counsel for EirGrid Brian Murray SC said the hearing should go ahead and the company could begin notifying the affected landowners this week. His legal colleague Jarlath Fitzsimons SC pointed out that development consent was not required for access routes. There was no requirement for a new notification, in EirGrid’s view.

On two separate occasions the exchanges were interrupted when two members of the public who are both affected by the proposed development stood up and addressed the inspectors directly. Cyril Darcy an agricultural consultant from Rataine, Robinstown in Co. Meath said the hearing was now a pure farce.

“We are looking for justice from An Bord Pleanála”, he said.

Michael Farrell from Corryholman, Kingscourt in Co. Cavan said it seemed the development had been “shoved down our throats”.

At the close of Tuesday’s hearing yesterday Padraig O’Reilly of the NEPPC said the information being provided by EirGrid seemed to be changing on a daily basis. There was no point in the group coming back into the hearing when information could change without advance notification and without public participation. They had decided there was no point in continuing their presence.

Nigel Hillis for the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee said they totally concurred with the NEPPC. The oral hearing should be adjourned, he said. Mary Marron of the CMAPC said nineteen landowners did not know where access roads would be going over their land. They had no faith in any sense of fairness if the oral hearing continued.

When the hearing resumed yesterday morning the inspector gave her reasons for continuing and said the NEPPC and CMAPC were welcome to …

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