MICHAEL FISHER  Northern Standard p.1  Thursday 28th April 2016

EirGrid has been accused of making up their application as they go along and turning the planning procedure into an absolute disgrace during the oral hearing into the proposed North/South electricity interconnector. It follows the introduction by the company for the third time of modified access routes along narrow country lanes that would be used by contractors building the latticed steel pylons and erecting the power lines. 32 separate changes have now been made by EirGrid since the hearing began last month.

On day 26 of the oral hearing a lawyer for EirGrid Jarlath Fitzsimons SC said there had been an ongoing review of the 584 temporary routes identified. Six new ones had been notified to An Bord Pleanála on the first day at the Nuremore Hotel on March 7th. Nineteen further changes were made a fortnight later following the discovery of discrepancies in mapping. Shortly before the close of the proceedings on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Fitzsimons revealed seven more modifications that had been made to the access routes. A further eleven mapping modifications were identified for the access routes, most of them minor. The lawyer said EirGrid had responded in a positive way to observations made by landowners during the hearing regarding specific tower locations.

Temporary access routes are included in the planning application to enable An Bord Pleanála to conduct an environmental assessment of all aspects of the proposed development. EirGrid spokesperson David Martin said: “With a total of 584 temporary access routes in the planning application, it is understandable that modifications to a small number have been proposed as information comes from observations made at the oral hearing and also from the continuing reviews.”

“In order to enter the area for the proposed development, we have identified 584 temporary access routes. Over the course of the oral hearing, we have listened with interest to the detailed submissions given by landowners along the proposed line route. Several landowners have focused on the detail of the temporary access routes. This feedback has been very helpful as we endeavour to provide the most convenient access routes possible for landowners.”

The hearing in Carrickmacross in front of two Bord Pleanála inspectors is now in its eighth week and is not expected to finish until the end of May. It’s one of the longest such planning enquiries into what is one of the largest ever infrastructure projects in the state. EirGrid is proposing to erect a 400kV high voltage line with 400 pylons from Woodland in Co. Meath across parts of Cavan and Meath into Co. Armagh and finishing at Turleenan near the Moy in Co. Tyrone.

Mary Marron of the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee said what was going on was an absolute disgrace. She wondered if more information was going to be added during the rest of the hearing. People had been coming into the hearing and pointing out to EirGrid errors in the access routes. If this was what was going to happen continually then the remaining landowners due to make submissions would have to decide if there was any point.

Monaghan Fine Gael Councillor Sean Gilliland said he found EirGrid’s approach to be absolutely insulting to the An Bord and to the local communities in the county. EirGrid believed they had identified issues with access routes but it was the public who had done so. Earlier in the day a problem had been pointed out by a landowner with EirGrid’s proposed use of a 9m stone wall embankment as an access point to a field.

Cllr Gilliland wondered if the environmental impact reports were wrong then were the health reports flawed as well? The community did not have the capability or the qualifications that the other side had. Our lives and the future of our young people are in your hands, he told the inspectors.

Cllr Gilliland said the planning application was flawed. On behalf of people in this rural part of Ireland he said he was begging the inspectors to consider the recent submissions made by landowners and householders, all of whom objected to the overhead power lines. What was happening was unjust and absolutely contrary to democracy and civil rights. It was not morally right nor would it ever be. They were being pushed into the mud by EirGrid who were taking information and re-presenting it in submissions they did not understand.

He was warmly applauded as was Margaret Marron of the CMAPC. She told the hearing she was absolutely appalled at the new information that had emerged. It was just incredible and the landowners were doing all the work for EirGrid, she said. The hearing is due to sit on three days next week, from Tuesday until Thursday and provision has been made for it to run until the fourth week in May.

SITTING DATES: (Resuming with more Monaghan landowners)

Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th May

Monday 9th May to Friday 13th May

Monday 23rd May to Friday 27th May


  1. Excellent coverage Michael, well done to you and the Northern Standard for keeping us informed on one of the most significant issues which has the potential to destroy our lovely wee County, keep up the good work.

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