Just 4,000 Grid Link submissions receive responses

Campaigners claim underground effort a box-ticking exercise

Some 35,000 public submissions were made to EirGrid on controversial Grid Link plans in the southeast.  Photograph: David Sleator/THE IRISH TIMES

Some 35,000 public submissions were made to EirGrid on controversial Grid Link plans in the southeast. Photograph: David Sleator/THE IRISH TIMES

Mon, Jun 30, 2014, 01:00

EirGrid has only responded to about 4,000 of the 35,000 public submissions it received last January on its controversial Grid Link plans in southeast Ireland, according to campaigners.

They claim it represents the slow pace of interaction with the public and that a potential underground route unveiled for a similar plan in the northwest has done little to ease concerns.

Last week, EirGrid, which operates the national electricity grid, revealed its preferred underground route for the Grid West project which will connect Mayo with an existing substation in Co Roscommon.

They are both part of a wider national scheme to upgrade Ireland’s power network.

Option

However, while the underground option was eventually examined to appease concerns – and a similar option will be considered for Grid Link – campaigners say the groundswell of opinion is that it remains a box-ticking exercise.

John McCusker of the Comeraghs Against Pylons (Cap) group in Waterford, one of the larger representative organisations, said they recently had a meeting with officials and were told that just 4,000 submissions had received responses.

“That’s taken them six months to do 11 per cent of the replies. That will give you an indicator of how slow they are,” he said, adding that it would impact on the likely timescale for when an alternative underground option could be unveiled for that project. It is understood, however, that some 20,000 responses are likely to be sent out by mid-July.

“What they did say to us was they don’t know when they will be in a position to publish the same underground/over ground routes for Grid Link. They have no programme in place, which is remarkable,” said Mr McCusker.

Sheer volume

However, the pace of the responses also reflects the sheer volume received and the work involved in addressing each one.

A spokesman for EirGrid said it has “given all of the submissions very careful consideration and has worked intensively on the preparation of answers to what were detailed and very genuine submissions”.

He said this was a measure of “our genuine commitment to responding” to the concerns raised.

A spokeswoman for the New Ross Hinterland Group said that while the underground potentials were welcome, “we would be afraid that it’s a box-ticking exercise”.