Last stand for South Tipperary, West Waterford and North East Cork with Eirgrid

The people of South County Tipperary, Counties Waterford and Cork have but a few days left in which to make submissions to Eirgrid.

The people of South County Tipperary, Counties Waterford and Cork have but a few days left in which to make submissions to Eirgrid regarding the possible routing of 150 foot pylons and power-lines through their respective areas. Eirgrid has identified three corridors – two in Waterford and one across South County Tipperary, from which a corridor will finally be chosen as the route for the Gridlink power line linking Wexford and Cork via Waterford city.

Ed O’Riordan, on behalf of Galtee Vee Valley Anti Pylon Group states: “My particular reason for writing is to encourage the people of South Tipperary to make submissions on the K2 section, because it is the geographic area I am familiar with. The K2 section is an option which, if chosen, will run through beautiful South Tipperary from Carrick-on-Suir to Glenduff west of Ballyporeen, with devastating consequences for tourism; will seriously damage the Golden Vale’s reputation as an unspoiled food producing area; seriously affect farm, home and other property values; cause extraordinary worries regarding health issues; destroy some of Tipperary’s most scenic and protected views making a mockery of the County Development Plan by which we all live; destroy the habitats of several protected species as outlined in the South Tipp Biodiversity Plan (these include Barn Owls – South Tipp is a stronghold of Ireland’s barn owls, and ornithologists look to Tipp as giving these protected birds a chance of survival); cause irreparable damage to the main breeding habitat for Ireland’s native honey bee; arrogantly and blatantly go across some of the area’s most important archaeological sites (Ballysheehan Medieval Church and cemetery is within the corridor, so too is Ballybrado, the only area in Tipperary to produce Mesolithic flint tools from 8,000 years ago, and totally disregard several ringforts, for example at Kilcommon and Scartana).

“Perhaps the most serious consequence is for the people of the region for whom the very essence of South Tipperary would be changed. All Tipperary people are aware that Slievenamon is the soul of Tipperary, and some faceless Eirgrid planner feels he/she has the right to draw a line on a map that would forever destroy the protected view of that mystical mountain as seen from the Clonmel-Waterford road, particularly at Kilsheelan. No less damaging is the plan to bring the corridor through the valley between Knockmealdowns and the Galtees. This landscape is also protected by the County Development Plan, a matter which seems to be of little importance to Eirgrid, but which is of enormous importance to the people of South Tipp., in fact all of Tipperary. It is worth noting that Eirgrid do not have to apply for planning permission to the local authorities!

“A recent posting on the internet from a man named Bill O’Halloran in the USA tells how he had seen an article about the Vee on the Clogheen website in 1997, where the slogan read “A valley so soft and green it will take your breath away”. It took several years, but Bill finally made it to Ireland and approached the Vee along the beautiful Lismore road. At the Vee, he stepped out of his car, and looked at the view of South Tipperary and, he writes, he started to sob. He said he never thought it could be so beautiful, so soft and so green. He added: “It took my breath away!”

This is where Minister Rabbitte and Eirgrid would run two hundred 150 foot high monstrous pylons with six 400,000volt cables suspended from them. It is an appalling thought, a sacrilegious plan, and a plan that the people of the area will fight all the way to Europe. The Aarhus Convention and the European Landscape Convention will both be invoked along with the hundreds of flaws in the Eirgrid plans. There are so many inconsistencies in the Eirgrid plan that it will take years to unravel their applications to An Bord Pleanala, whichever route is chosen.

We appeal to the people of South Tipp in particular, to reject this shocking plan and, at the very least, to insist that wherever it goes, the cables are underground. There is a mass of evidence which shows that undergrounding is feasible, and when a proper costing is done that includes the cost of the resultant damage to farm and property values along the Gridlink route and the cost from the damage to tourism over a wider area, the undergrounding will be shown to be not just feasible but also far cheaper than over-ground power lines and pylons.

“There is a widely held view nationally, and at the highest level, that the Grid 25 project, which includes Gridlink, has more to do with facilitating the ‘wind energy sector’ and Minister Rabbitte’s recent memorandum of understanding with the UK regarding exporting wind turbine produced electricity, than it has to do with upgrading the national electricity grid. Sadly, this is all giving renewable energy a bad name at a time when the Government should be highlighting the values and benefits of wind energy, and encouraging community renewable-energy schemes whereby local communities would take responsibility for conserving energy and producing their own renewable energy. What a great legacy this would be for future generations instead of what economist Colm McCarthy has warned will be ‘Nama for wind farms’ if we continue with the present policies.”

Submissions should include your name and address, the section of corridor you are writing about, (K2 for South Tipp), reasons – or constraints – that should be considered when Eirgrid are deciding on the route for pylons. Send by freepost to The Grid Link Project Manager, EirGrid, PO BOX 12213 (Free Post Licence No F5007), Glenageary, Co Dublin. You can also email your submission to Deadline for submissions is 5pm on 7th January.

“It will be the best New Year’s gift you can give your children and grandchildren,” Ed O’Riordan concluded