Minister for Energy
has conceded that consultation between national authorities and communities concerned over the erection of pylons has not been good enough.
Mr Rabbitte said there was a need to act with “sensitivity” and to “go out of your way to explain and have meaningful exchanges with local communities” when objections such as those surrounding the €500 million Gridlink project arose.
An extended period of consultation on the project is due to end next Tuesday and Mr Rabbitte said it was vital the process won as much local support as possible.
'Element of intrusion'
"Community acceptance is very important. There always has been a trade off between the comforts of modern civilisation and some element of intrusion into the way we live," he says in an interview with The Irish Times. "It is incumbent on those of us involved, whether it is EirGrid – the statutory agency responsible for implementation and delivery – or Government, to explain and get as much community acceptance as we can."
Asked if he felt engagement with the public on the matter had been carried out well, Mr Rabbitte replied “obviously not well enough”. “One has to continue to do it and there has been criticism in parliament here about the quality of the consultation and the principal agency involved is EirGrid, and it has to take those lessons on board.”
The Gridlink project consists of a high voltage overhead power line linking Knockraha, Co Cork, to Great Island, Co Wexford, to Dunstown, Co Kildare. People living close to the line's route have expressed concerns about the pylons and associated property devaluation, potential health issues, and damage to farming activity.
Asked if he would mind living near a pylon, the Dublin South West TD replied: “There’s no room near where I live to erect a pole, never mind a pylon.”