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MEP looks to tackle government's pylon 'myths' as Coveney acknowledges 'genuine concerns'

The pylons controversy rumbles on…

Image: Pylons via Shutterstock

AN MEP IS planning what she says is “high-level conference” on the plans to erect hundreds of electricity pylons between Munster and Leinster, as Minister Simon Coveney admitted today that the government needs to listen to concerns of rural residents.

The Agriculture Minister was speaking amid ongoing controversy over plans by Eirgrid to expand and upgrade the country’s electricity infrastructure which will involve the erection of large electricity pylons in some rural areas.

A public consultation process on the Gridlink project to link Munster and Leinster received thousands of submissions before yesterday’s deadline.

But Enda Kenny and the government have come under fire over remarks made by the Taoiseach in Saudi Arabia this week when he linked the erection of pylons to the avoidance of emigration with one coalition senator describing it as “gaffe in the Gulf”.

Ireland South MEP Phil Prendergast, who criticised the Taoiseach’s comments, has organised what she’s calling “high-level conference on pylons” which will examine the situation across the EU, the possibility of placing them underground and what, if any, health impacts.

“It is important that some of the myths which have been propagated, particularly by the government side, are tackled head-on, and that we maintain momentum in our fight to prevent the destruction of our historical, cultural and geographic landscape across the country,” she said in a statement today,

Coveney acknowledged that there are “genuine concerns” that need to be listened to but told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny this morning that if the Irish economy is to grow “we have to be able to find a way of moving energy around this country”.

He said there is a “moral responsibility” to move away from carbon-based energy sources and said a way needs to be found to put “an infrastructure in place that can facilitate that”.

The Fine Gael TD said he is not aware of any health risks associated with pylons but stressed the need to not “ignore concerns as they arise”.

“We’re in a process here, it’s a difficult process, it’s a combatative process for the people who are very angry about this potential development,” he said.

Read: Eirgrid receives thousands of submissions on pylon project

‘Gaffe in the Gulf’: Backbenchers criticise Taoiseach over linking pylons and emigration

Read: Underground pylons will add 3% to electricity bills over the next 50 years, says Rabbitte

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Hugh O'Connell

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