Communities will not yield in fight against pylons

Communities around Kilkenny are united in their battle to prevent Eirgrid from building a new overhead powerline system across the county.

Communities around Kilkenny are united in their battle to prevent Eirgrid from building a new overhead powerline system across the county.

People in Clara, Gowran and Paulstown joined forces in recent weeks to prepare a mega-submission, which was handed in to Eirgid on on January 7 – the deadline day. The submission, which ran to 115 pages, had input from various experts and sources, and was signed by over 1,000 people from the communities.

The submission outlines the reasons why locals feel the D16 route, which runs up through Kilkenny, should be excluded from further overhead consideration and why the project should proceed underground. The submission detailed the potential impact the Eirgrid proposal would have on the community including heritage, environmental, health, landscape, GAA clubs, businesses, agriculture, amenity and visual, noise, property values, and more.

“The final document was a huge community effort and they got help from all quarters, and it turns out the extended reach of our parishes knows no limits for goodwill and obtaining specialist help,” said one of the organisers.

It was one of thousands of submissions that Eirgrid received – many of them from Kilkenny. Like the ‘Care for Clara, Paulstown and Gowran’ submission, many are calling for the lines to be placed underground.

Eirgrid continue to push for an overhead option. They intend to make a decision on the route later this year.

There is also considerable anger, however, that the decision on the route will not be made until after the upcoming local and European elections in May. The ‘pylon issue’ at this stage looks set to be one of the defining narratives in the elections.

While most local representatives have said they would prefer to see the power lines put underground, senior figures in both the Fine Gael and Labour Party, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, are defending the project.

Irish MEP Nessa Childers said that recent remarks made by Mr Kenny, in which he linked the pylon expansion to job creation and emigration, were ‘outrageous’. Fellow MEP Phil Prendergast is examining the feasibility of submitting a case to the European Parliament Petitions Committee. She will raise the issue at a plenary session this week.