EirGrid lawyer Jarlath Fitzsimons SC said the photomontages were not a clever manipulation, nor were they dishonest. It was unhelpful and inaccurate suggest this. He said a full suite of tools had been used in making assessments and a number of significant impacts along the route had been clearly identified regarding specific residences.
Consultant landscape architect for EirGrid Jeorg Schulze gave an extensive reply to the concerns about photomontages raised by Fine Gael Cllr Sean Gilliland. He said they helped to give an assessment of the visual impact of the line on specific vistas identified in the county development plan. In response to several queries about why houses had not been shown in the photomontages, Mr Schulze said it was the landscape that was being assessed. He pointed out that the residential impact assessment for residences had covered 1070 houses within 500m either side of the proposed line in the Monaghan area. At no point had they tried to hide any impact there would be on residences.
He said the environmental impact statement stated the impact on individual houses and gave conclusions. They did not need photomontages from all locations to come to those conclusions. He himself had seen some of the areas from the public road and had walked along part of the Monaghan Way. Cllr Gilliland listened to the explanation and said EirGrid were being “economic with the truth” and he would leave it at that.
Monaghan County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Noel Keelan, asked the presiding inspector what would be the response from An Bord Pleanála when a new government was formed and the new Dáil would have representatives from three main parties opposed to an overhead line, as had been made clear on Monday. He was informed that the Board would have to have regard to current government policy when it made its decision.
Fine Gael Cllr Aidan Campbell asked the inspectors what weight was placed by An Bord Pleanála on the county development plan, which had been worked on by all the councillors and the planning officers. The EirGrid response was not what they wanted because it contravened a number of things in the plan. So what was the point of having one, he asked. Presiding inspector Breda Gannon confirmed that the Board also had to have regard for county development plans (as well as government policy) in coming to their decisions.
This section dealt with concerned residents’ groups from Co. Meath
The inspectors heard submissions from eleven groups of residents who had come together to lodge joint submissions to An Bord Pleanála. The effect of the planned line on historic areas such as Teltown and Donaghpatrick was again made clear. Many had sent in objections when the previous application had made. By making one objection, it meant each group had to make only one payment of €50. The hearing was told that as almost 1000 submissions had been made to the Board, this would have brought in nearly €50,000 in revenue.