Taoiseach calls for greater consultation on erection of pylons
FF leader repeats demand for independent international assessment
The Government, said Mr Kenny, did not speak for EirGrid and had no function in determining whether it should recommend a particular, or series, of locations for the erection of pylons.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has called for greater consultation with communities on the erection of pylons. He said communication must be real and take on board people’s concerns and questions and deal with them in as comprehensive a manner as possible.
“I know that in some cases these consultations have not been as full as I would like. There is a need for a balanced and rational discussion on what we want to do.”
Mr Kenny was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who repeated his call for an independent international assessment of EirGrid’s 25 proposals on the upgrade and expansion of the national grid using only overground pylons.
“Thousands of people have turned up at public meetings to voice their anger and concern about a range of issues, from the impact of this project on people’s health to the character of our landscape and cultural heritage and on residential housing and amenities.”
He said the consultation process, in terms of addressing people’s genuine concerns, had not been full and meaningful.
“In particular, it appears the key decisions, namely the erection of a single string of mega-pylons from Knockraha in Cork to Dunstown in Kildare and the ruling-out of any underground cabling, were made in advance of that consultation process,’’ Mr Martin added.
He said in Denmark pylons erected overground had been taken down and a different set of options, in terms of its grid and power lines, had been adopted.
Mr Kenny said the Fianna Fáil leader was himself not very clear in terms of what he was proposing. There was always controversy in the country on issues such as the development of dual-carriageways or motorways, the provision of gas lines or wind turbines or, in the current case, upgrade and expansion of the electricity grid.
“As the leader of the Fianna Fáil party, Deputy Martin understands very well that our country cannot be left bereft of infrastructure for investment purposes. Unfortunately, we have not yet arrived at the point where it is possible to transmit power without cables.’’
The Government, said Mr Kenny, did not speak for EirGrid and had no function in determining whether it should recommend a particular, or series, of locations for the erection of pylons. An assessment by the previous government had determined that the cost of an underground line would be three times more costly than overground.
Degree of capacity
“While we have a degree of capacity now owing to the unfortunate circumstances within our economy, a time will come, with Ireland now being recognised by some influential entities as being the best country in which to do business, when we will have to decide what it is we want to do.’’
Mr Kenny said he understood that a cable of that magnitude, if buried, would need to be dug up every so often using converters which were very expensive.
“People say they want jobs all over the country. We cannot have them without infrastructure such as water, communications, roads and power.’’
Mr Martin said the problem was that EirGrid decided on one particular option and then sought to ram it down people’s throats. He added that Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar had said he supported Fáilte Ireland’s concerns about the risks to heritage amenities and scenic landscapes. “There will be mega-pylons across the Comeragh mountains, for example.’’