15 April 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Michael Fisher

Eight TDs from the three main parties expressed unanimous opposition to EirGrid’s plan for a North/South high voltage electricity transmission line when stage two of the Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the planning application began in Carrickmacross on Monday. All pointed out that local communities and landowners were strongly opposed to the overhead line and the 300 pylons that would be erected across Monaghan, Cavan and Meath.

EirGrid again defended its choice not to put the cables underground for reasons of cost and security. But they were told by a Cavan farmer their plans to put a pylon near his house and the remains of a fort were a total disgrace. Paul Reilly from Gallonboy near Kingscourt said he did not know what EirGrid were up to. It was as though EirGrid were taking a bulldozer and pushing everything away in this big tourism area near the site of the Muff Fair. They were going backwards (in technology).

He explained to the planning inspectors that as a farmer he bought an up to date tractor; he did not buy a donkey. He had worked on the underground gas pipeline in County Meath and there was no problem about it at all. Mr Reilly was applauded by other land owners as he stated bluntly: either EirGrid put the cables underground or the project won’t go at all.

A number of other landowners, mainly farmers repeated the same message during yesterday’s proceedings. On Monday, individual land owners along the line from County Monaghan will make their submissions, starting with where the proposed overhead line crosses the border at Lemgare near Clontibret, close to the Monaghan Way. The hearing is expected to last until the middle of next month.

Sinn Féin TD for Cavan/Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the vehement opposition to EirGrid’s plans he had witnessed and had experienced at successive public meetings knew no political or religious boundaries or borders. That opposition from Meath through Cavan and Monaghan to Armagh and Tyrone equated with a mighty roar and one that must be heard, heeded and respected. His party was not opposed to the development of a North/ South interconnector, a point that was also raised by former Stormont Agriculture Minister and former MP Michelle Gildernew. What they were against was the plan to put the power lines overhead, suspended on steel pylons. He also called for the project to proceed by putting the cables underground.

Fianna Fáil TD Niamh Smyth expressed her total objection to the proposed development in its current form and said it could not go ahead without public acceptance. Her constituency colleague Brendan Smith TD claimed people in the North East were being treated as second class citizens compared to other parts of the country.

As well as the TDs, evidence was also given to …


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