Council to tell Eirgrid: ‘We don’t want pylons’

Kilkenny Borough Council is to write a letter to Eirgrid to register its oppostion to the proposal for a new overhead powerline in the county.

Kilkenny Borough Council is to write a letter to Eirgrid to register its oppostion to the proposal for a new overhead powerline in the county.

A motion was approved at Monday night’s meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council. It was put forward by Cllr Joe Reidy and seconded by Cllr Andrew McGuinness.

Cllr Reidy said he had been told by Eirgrid that putting the 400kv power lines underground would not be possible, but that he had since come to understand that it was.

“I propose that we would write to Eirgrid and say that we would prefer that they do not come through Kilkenny, and if they do, that it would be underground,” he said.

Mayor Martin Brett said he had no problem writing it. Cllr David Fitzgerald asked if the local authorities would be making a submission, irrespective of what individual councillors chose to do. Eirgrid are expected to make a presentation to the county council at next Monday’s meeting.

Concerns over the plans for the overhead power lines have refused to go away, with another local meeting held last Friday – this time in Paulstown. Hundreds of people have now attended meetings across Kilkenny, in areas including Clara, Stoneyford, Kilmacow, Piltown, Carrigeen, and Carrickbeg. Local TD Ann Phelan has called for a one-month extension to the deadline for submissions to Eirgrid, because of what she says has been a ‘clear lack of adequate communication’ between Eirgrid and the public. The current deadline for submissions has been set for November 26.

“I have attended public meetings and have met with concerned community groups within the constituency who have been active in their efforts to present their concerns to Eirgrid,” said the Labour TD.

“A common theme amongst all community groups is that it was felt Eirgrid did not actively consult with residents along the proposed corridors.”

Several other local representatives and political activists have also spoken out on the issue. Many feel that the lines should be placed underground. Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan has said that infrastructure should not be at the cost of rural communities, agriculture, tourism, wildlife or natural heritage.

“In Europe, there is almost twice as much cable being laid underground as there is being set on pylons, largely due to public concern across the European Union,” he said.

“Denmark has opted for the undergrounding option. Therefore, it can be done.”

Patrick McKee, who was a co-researcher with Senator Mark Daly on a private members bill regarding the effects of electro-magnetic fields on mobile phones users, says the issue needs to be taken seriously: “I’m strongly advocating the precautionary approach which, taken with the economic case made so effectively by NEPP, makes under-grounding all 400kv lines absolutely essential,” he said.

“EirGrid’s current plans envisage hugely intrusive pylons traversing Kilkenny and adjoining counties and the potential health consequences associated with such a project should and must be taken seriously.”

Local community activist Mick Greene has said the public have every right to be concerned and outraged at Eirgrid’s proposals:

“The proposed pylons will have an average height of 43m and will be placed along the route at 300m intervals. Our objection is to Eirgrid’s decision to run the cables overhead as opposed to underground.” He said that the decision to run the cables overhead was based soley on Eirgrid’s capital costs.