N4N5Pic12CALLS have been made to defer the deadline for submissions on EirGrid’s proposed Grid Link project.
The third public consultation on the controversial €500 million project runs until Tuesday November 26th and EirGrid is encouraging people to make submissions by this date.
Independent TD John Halligan has asked Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte if he believes there is a conflict of interest on the part of the consulting engineering company employed by EirGrid to advise them on the selection of the ‘least constrained’ route corridor.
Deputy Halligan claims that RPS has also been employed by Tipperary County Council and says any decision made could greatly impact on Waterford.
RPS has been appointed by Tipperary County Council to review the possibility of a Greenway route along the towpath of the Suir between Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir.
Deputy Halligan said the EirGrid Report Appendix 2 outlines the “specific primary constraints” which will influence the final selection of a “least constrained corridor”.
In the constraints listed for each county, specifics are mentioned for all counties such as the Hook Peninsula in Wexford, Knockmealdown Mountains and The Glen of Aherlow in Tipperary etc., however no mention is made of features in Waterford such as the Comeraghs or Coumshingaun.
“Whatever the reason, the failure to list these could have an unfavourable influence on the RPS assessors when they sit down to select the “least constrained corridor,” said Deputy Halligan.
“It is vital that RPS be made spell out in public the procedure they will adopt when selecting this corridor,” he added.
In a Dail question submitted this week, Deputy Halligan asked what influence Minister Pat Rabbitte’s office had in choosing the areas where EirGrid are proposing to erect pylons; if other options were considered; what agreement has been made between the department and EirGrid; the purpose of the venture; if any Environmental Impact Assessment studies were carried out prior to possible routes being chosen; as well as calling for clarity on health issues.
Deputy Halligan said he had encountered a number of people in rural County Waterford, in particular elderly farmers, who were still unaware of the proposal.
The Comeraghs Against Pylons (CAP) group is also calling on EirGrid to roll back the project to the starting line.
An open day facilitated by CAP in St Brigid’s Hall, Kilrossanty on Sunday last was described as a “huge success” with a large number of people attending.
“We met some people who are still only finding out about this now,” said the CAP spokesperson.
“We met an 80-year-old farmer who was quite upset and was seeking information and advice.”
The CAP group is planning to stage a major march into the Mahon Falls on November 9th, with full details yet to be confirmed.
A public meeting is planned for Rathgormack Hiking Centre this Thursday October 24th at 9pm.
“This will be a good chance for people to give their views and get fully informed about pylons going up in view of Coumshingaun Lake and the Mahon Falls in the Comeragh Mountains as maps will be there to be viewed on the night,” said Michael Flynn, a member of the Comeragh Rathgormack K9 Pylon Prevention Group.
Meanwhile, Grid Link Project Manager John Lowry is encouraging concerned locals to continue to engage with EirGrid.
“This is people’s opportunity to influence the decision making process. It is necessary to bring one corridor forward as this project is critical for the region,” he said.
Mr Lowry was present at last week’s heated Waterford County Council meeting.
“The whole meeting was dedicated to the issue. I presented with my colleague for two hours,” said Mr Lowry.
“It is important that people have the correct information. There is a lot of misinformation out there at the moment. We are going to great lengths to try and allay fears. This does not present an issue in relation to health and that is backed up by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIR).”
Responding to accusations that EirGrid had pitted communities against each other by proposing competing routes in Waterford, Mr Lowry said: “I can categorically say that is not the case.”
He added: “I would challenge any developer to show where they have been as comprehensive as we have. We are trying to be as open and transparent as possible.”
Mr Lowry said the decision of which route corridor to proceed with would not be decided upon based on the strength of any opposition group.
“This is not a numbers game. One person may highlight a very important aspect relating to this project. It doesn’t take 10,000 people to raise an important issue,” he said.
See News 22-23 for more.