Taoiseach defends electricity pylons on eve of consultation deadline on network upgrade

Pylons necessary to ‘ensure jobs and investment can be spread across Ireland’


Taoiseach Enda Kenny today strongly defended the erection of electricity pylons across the country on the eve of the public consultation period on a key network upgrade project drawing to a close.

Speaking during a trade mission to Saudi Arabia, Mr Kenny said the building of infrastructure such as pylons was necessary to ensure jobs and investment could be spread across Ireland.

He said the Government was “consistently asked” to provide employment to all areas of the State but that this could not be done without infrastructure such as water, roads and power.

“We haven’t arrived at a situation yet where you can provide power without cables.

“Now I don’t think it’s right for any Government to say that they can deny the next generation of young people in our country the right to have a job and to live and work in their own area if that be so.”

Mr Kenny said it was “ironic in many ways that people say to me ‘well my children have to go away, have to emigrate,’ and in many cases they emigrate to countries where these things are matter of course as providing infrastructure for development.”

The Taoiseach said that “if someone can explain to me how you can provide power for the future without cables I’d like to hear from them”.

He added: “There is a cost factor involved in this - be it overground or underground - rest assured as all submissions have gone in, these things have become a matter of very serious consideration.

Tomorrow is the deadline for the extended period of consultation from the public on the Grid Link Project, a € 500m scheme to upgrade the transmission network linking Leinster and Munster. It is one of a number of major network upgrades.

The scheme, as envisaged, provided for the erection of hundreds of pylons throughout the country. But that aspect has met with huge opposition at local level, with opposition groups being formed to argue that the pylons should be put underground. The issue dominated two successive meetings of the Fine Gael party before Christmas with TDs and Senators expressing strong opposition to the plans. But, as of now, there are no plans to put the cables underground.

Eirgrid today confirmed it had received a large volume of submissions and said it would continue to welcome submissions after the formal deadline has been passed.

Its Grid Link Project Manager, John Lowry, said the 17-week period had been useful.

“It is important to remember that the project is still in the pre-planning stage and that after January 7th people can still engage with the project team. The project team will continue to accept and consider information received after this date. The project is still in the early stages and there will be another opportunity for public consultation in 2014.”

After the consultation period is over, the project team will choose in mid-2014 what Eirgrid described as the “least constrained corridor and substation sites”. It said that corridor of land would “be the best option from a technical, environmental, community and economic perspective within which an overhead line can be routed.”