AN OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE will today discuss draft laws that could see electricity pylons being used to provide broadband access in rural areas.
The Communications Sub-Committee will also debate a number of amendments to the bill which was announced by Minister Pat Rabbittee last month and could make it possible for ESB to enter the broadband market.
As part of the ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013, the ESB will be allowed to give third-party companies access to all “electricity infrastructure” for the provision of communication services.
This is planned to include any distribution systems including electricity power lines.
Specifically, the definition of electric lines is expected to contain the provision for the use of “any structure, pole or other thing in, on, by or from which any such line may be supported, carried or suspended”.
In areas where ESB infrastructure crosses over private land, the ESB has wayleave rights to access the private lands subject to compensation. It is envisaged as part of the new bill that the third-party companies given access to the infrastructure will have also have similar access to the private land.
A number of amendments to the bill submitted by Fianna Fáil’s Michael Moynihan and Sinn Féin’s Michael Colreavy will be discussed by the nine person committee.
Among the amendments tabled is one from Moynihan who wants it it be be written into the legislation that any work carried on the land of property owners “shall not be carried out in such a manner that it would dramatically impact on the property rights of the owner”.
“Every effort shall be made to ensure the development shall be carried out in such manner that shall have the least detrimental impact on the property concerned,” the amendment proposes.
Colreavy wants it it be be written into the legislation that any contract the ESB makes with a third-party company must ensure a certain percentage of work is carried out by small businesses.
The ESB says it has “no comment to make on the legislation currently before the Dáil, this is a matter for Government”, the company said in a statement.