Amid fears the proposed Gridlink plan could see pylons stretching from Kildare to Cork, opposition to the project is strong.
Nowhere more so than in the the picturesque Comeragh mountains, where locals are determined to fight against the introduction of pylons to the bitter end.
Yesterday was the last day of the third phase of public consultation by Eirgrid and the controversy has shown no signs of abating.
An umbrella group made up of anti-pylon units from across Co Waterford and beyond, Rethink Pylons, fears a new network of pylons would "scar" the mountains to the Blackwater and destroy the remaining landscape down to the Waterford coast.
“We all came together under the one campaign because we realised we all wanted the exact same thing,” Sean Cullinan of the Déise Against Pylons and the Rethink Pylons organisations said yesterday.
He criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny for apparently linking the issue of expanding the power network with emigration by suggesting more jobs would be created across the country if the electricity network was improved.
“It’s a very unusual argument to take because, as far as I’m aware, power isn’t generated in Dublin, the power that’s there is generated in the regions anyway and there’s more than enough power generated here. The Taoiseach himself included the very emotive topic of emigration and I certainly wouldn’t be quoting, to anybody, emigration as a reason to do something or not to do something.”
Mr Cullinan said it was Rethink Pylons’ belief that Eirgrid wants to expand the network to allow electricity to be exported. “It’s all about supplying renewable energy to the UK.”
Meanwhile, in the foothills of the Comeraghs, the Rathgormack K9 Pylon Prevention Group gathered submissions throughout November and December and delivered them to Eirgrid headquarters last month.
The K9 group held a meeting last night to update members on events and is planning to hold a public meeting in the near future to assess the campaign and plan for the future.
'Campaign goes on'
Campaigner Catherine Flynn said yesterday: “We need to brief people who attended our first meeting and decide where we’re going from here.”
Ms Flynn said about 1,700 submissions were lodged with Eirgrid from the Rathgormack area including those from individuals, community groups and landowners. “It’s important to note that there’s 99 per cent commitment from the landowners – they don’t want it going in on the proposed route along the Comeraghs.”
Sean Cullinan said that while the latest phase of public consultation ended yesterday, the anti-pylon campaign goes on. “We’re just ordinary members of our communities, but there’s a lot of anger out there at the moment, in terms of what’s being foisted upon us.”