THE SEMI-STATE COMPANY overseeing the controversial planned upgrade of the electricity network through Leinster and Munster has confirmed it’s still accepting submissions on ‘Grid Link’ project, eleven days after the publicised deadline.
Eirgrid‘s official deadline for feedback on the €500 million scheme was last Tuesday 7 January. The proposed project will see a high-voltage link created through the two provinces that involves the placing of some 750 pylons along one of a several proposed 1km wide ‘corridors’.
Some 35,000 submissions had been received by the close of the consultation period. However, a spokesperson for Eirgrid confirmed that the team of specialists going through the material would add any late submissions to their existing file:
“The 7th January was not a cut-off point after which we will not take submissions, but the earlier people submit information the more opportunity the project team has to consider this information across all corridors and evaluate the corridors in order to determine the least constrained corridor.”
The 18 week consultation period was launched to allow people living in areas close to the proposed routes give their feedback on the plan. Opposition to the project has intensified in recent weeks, with local groups raising objections to the plan on various grounds — from health and environmental concerns to the impact the overhead lines could have on tourism and property prices.
Eirgrid intends to pick the ‘least constrained corridor’ by the middle of this year, after which another round of public consultation will take place. The company doesn’t expect to submit an application to An Bord Pleanála for planning approval until 2016.
A team of 24 technical experts is currently going through the 35,000-odd submissions received to date, and a report on all the feedback will be produced and published on the Eirgrid website in the coming months.
According to the spokesperson:
Each individual submission must be read, assessed, scanned and uploaded to a database before each is subject to a detailed and thorough examination.
Of the total number of submissions received, a large number are duplicates: some 1,600 submission were made via the RethinkPylons.org website, after the protest group provided members of the public with a standard one-page text for their objections.
The group’s Albert Wassenaar told TheJournal.ie that people had been given the option to edit the standard form, but that 99 per cent opted not to do so.
“We want to make it really clear that there’s a depth of feeling out there regarding these pylons, and that there’s a consensus on the issues — so if 1,600 submissions from us go into Eirgrid it will only serve to emphasise how deeply people feel about it.”
Wassenaar said that some local groups had sent submissions of up to 34 pages. Other documents, from groups like An Taisce, Fáilte Ireland and farming union the ICSA run from between six to 12 pages.
The project team can be contacted by these methods:
By writing: The Grid Link Project Manager, EirGrid, PO Box 12213, Glenageary, Co. Dublin
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grid Link Project Information Centres are also staying open (if you can make it in during their limited opening hours) in Midleton, Co. Cork and Kilcullen, Co. Kildare each Monday; Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary each Tuesday; New Ross, Co. Wexford on Wednesday and Carlow town on Thursday. Office opening hours are 12noon – 6pm.