INTERCONNECTOR DAY27

­­­­­­­­DAY TWENTY-SEVEN

This section dealt with the Baile Phib Gaeltacht near Navan, Co. Meath

Three submissions were made to the hearing in Irish concerning the importance of the Baile Ghib Gaeltacht in Co. Meath and how it could be affected by EirGrid’s interconnector plan. Questioned by a local resident, a consultant archaeologist for EirGrid confirmed that the power lines would at one point near Oristown pass over the route of the Tain Bó Cuailgne march.

Uinsionn O Gairbhi a local resident explained the history of the area. This Gaeltacht was founded in 1937, when twenty Irish-speaking families were moved from the west coast of Ireland under the Land Commission. Each family received a house, 22 acres, farm animals and implents in exchange for land and property in their native county. Baile Ghib was eventually given official Gaeltacht status, along with Ráth Cairn in 1967.

Mr O Gairbhi said young children from Dublin, Navan, Kells and Drogheda came to the area to learn Irish. If the pylons and power lines were erected they would constitute a danger zone that would have to be avoided. These dangerous wires must be put underground, he said, so that the health of people would not be in danger and they would not interfere with the beauty of the area.

Athboy resident Cathal Seoige a former member of Údarás na Gaeltachta said Baile Ghib was full of heritage and history. He also called for the high voltage lines not to go through the area and insisted they should be placed underground.

Máire Nic an tSithigh also called on EirGrid to put the interconnector underground and said this would be the best solution for our language and heritage.

EirGrid Project Manager Aidan Geoghegan said that after considering the technical, environmental and economic aspects they considered that an underground HVDC cable would not be appropriate. He said there had been 400kV overhead lines in Ireland for the past thirty years. They were very reliable and performed well even in bad weather.

Consultant archaeologist for EirGrid Declan Moore said the overhead lines would have no direct physical impact on the Táin route and it was not a registered recorded monument. In answer to Maura Sheehy he revealed that the Táin route would pass under the proposed development close to Oristown.

This section involved landowners and groups from Co. Monaghan

BERNIE RUTH, Secretary of the Corduff Raferagh Heritage Group explained that it was set up in 2000 to share, preserve and archive the local heritage. She was sure the professionals from EirGrid had exmined the myriad of maps available to them to check for any archaeological sites of interest. But what they did not have was local knowledge, local interest and local passion, which their voluntary group had.

There was a cillín in Corrinenty, an unmarked burial ground for unbaptised children, in very close proximity to the planned line and a pylon. There were Mass rocks in Greaghlatacapple and Umerafree, and Mass was celebrated annually at Greaghlatacapple, which would be within view of many of the pylons. There were many more places of interest to them—the locals—within the area.

Each year they held a number of heritage walks around the townlands, pointing out items of local history and gathering information from local people. Currently they were recording and photographing old structures like buildings, gates, piers and bridges. Quite often the pictures were impeded by the current ESB or telephone poles. What would it be like with pylons and heavy lines?

The group was planning to re-establish the old Mass path on Corduff mountain, with a viewing area on the summit where you can see as far as Cavan, Louth, Meath and Armagh. But with the possibility of viewing more pylons than scenery, this project might have to be abandoned.

The heritage group, like the majority of their neighbours, were ordinary people, living ordinary lives. They had no objection to progress but hoped that An Bord Pleanála and EirGrid used common sense and buried the lines, not only in the interest of preserving the beautiful drumlin landscape and their heritage,but most importantly their future mental and physical health.

She said that she lived two fields away from one of the proposed pylons, on a narrow country road that was used by many people for their daily recreational walk. She did not think there was any person who had come to this hearing over the past 26 days, no matter which side of the room they were on, who would let their children, siblings, parents or any family member live under or near these pylons or lines, no matter what the experts said. The experts did not always get it right, she added.

Bernie Ruth said that to allow the project go ahead as planned when there was an alternative would be a shame and a disgrace to each and every person present at the hearing. It was now time to use common sense and to bury the lines, not our people.

JAMES BANNINGAN, Tossey, Secretary of Lough Egish Gun Club, said three or four of the proposed towers and the power line would be highly visible from the main road between Lough Egish and Castleblayney. He expressed concerns about the possible leakage of silt from construction sites into the lake.

There were dangers for fly fishermen who were fishing near power lines, he said. He was worried about the possible effects on angling tourism.

SEAMUS QUINN, Cooltrim Egish, said EirGrid wold never be allowed into his land and he hoped they did not get planning permission. One of the proposed pylons wold be right in front of his house, he said.

GABRIEL WARD, Tooa, referred to the flora and fauna and wildlife in the former Shantonagh House estate. The woodland contained various types of trees including oak, ash and hazel. A lot of people went for walks in the area, which also contained two old flax mills. Bats had been known to roost in the area.

The following landowners were represented by NIGEL HILLS, who questioned EirGrid on their behalf: Roy Brown, Eamonn Kerr, Philip McDermott, Enda and Rose Duffy, Margaret O’Neill, Peadar McSkeane, Joe Boylan, Kevin Duffy and family, Patrick and Sarah Duffy, Hugh and Bernadette Duffy, Colman and Patricia Ryan, Eileen Smyth, Eamonn McNally, Gene Connolly, and Jim and Mary Connolly. He raised their concerns about access routes, pylon locations, the lack of consultation, health and safety, farm impacts, land and property devaluation, development restrictions, and the effect on flora and fauna.

INTERCONNECTOR WEEK9

‘END THIS COSTLY CHARADE’ SAY ANTI-PYLON CAMPAIGNERS

EIRGRID ACCUSED OF TURNING HEARING INTO FARCE AFTER MORE CHANGES MADE TO ITS PLANNING APPLICATION

Michael Fisher    MEATH CHRONICLE   p.1

EirGrid has been accused by anti-pylon campaigners in Meath and Monaghan of making up their application as they go along. They have accused the semi-state company of turning the planning procedure into an absolute disgrace during the oral hearing into the proposed North/South electricity interconnector. The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign called on An Bord Pleanála to put an end to what they said was a “costly charade”.

It follows the introduction by the company for the third time of modified access routes along narrow country lanes that would be used by contractors building the latticed steel pylons and erecting the power lines. Thirty-two separate changes have now been made by EirGrid since the hearing began last month.

On day 26 of the oral hearing a lawyer for EirGrid Jarlath Fitzsimons SC said there had been an ongoing review of the 584 temporary routes identified. Six new ones had been notified to An Bord Pleanála on the first day at the Nuremore Hotel on March 7th. Nineteen more changes were made a fortnight later following the discovery of discrepancies in mapping. Shortly before the close of proceedings last week, Mr Fitzsimons revealed seven more alterations to access routes. A further eleven minor mapping modifications to the routes were identified. According to the lawyer, EirGrid had responded in a positive way to observations made by landowners during the course of the hearing regarding specific tower locations.

Temporary access routes are included in the application to enable An Bord Pleanála to conduct an environmental assessment of all aspects of the proposed development. EirGrid spokesperson David Martin said: “With a total of 584 temporary access routes in the planning application, it is understandable that modifications to a small number have been proposed as information comes from observations made at the oral hearing and also from the continuing reviews.”

“In order to enter the area for the proposed development, we have identified 584 temporary access routes. We have listened with interest to the detailed submissions given by landowners along the proposed line route. Several have focused on the detail of the temporary access routes. This feedback has been very helpful as we endeavour to provide the most convenient access routes possible for landowners.”

The hearing in Carrickmacross in front of two Bord Pleanála inspectors is now in its ninth week and is not expected to finish until the end of May. It’s one of the longest such planning enquiries into what is one of the largest ever infrastructure projects in the state. EirGrid is proposing to erect a 400kV high voltage line with 400 pylons from Woodland in Co. Meath across parts of Cavan and Meath into Co. Armagh and finishing at Turleenan near the Moy in Co. Tyrone.

On the 22nd March, during week three of the hearing EirGrid announced a number of major flaws in its planning application and made a request to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) to change nineteen access entrances and routes to landowner properties. The NEPPC said landowners had neither been notified of nor consulted on these plans at this stage. EirGrid conceded that all landowners needed to be notified.

On Tuesday 26th April, EirGrid yet again announced without any prior notice a further request to ABP to change an additional 18 access routes, making ‘minor deviations’ to access route maps. The affected landowners, similar to the situation pertaining in March, had neither been notified of nor consulted on these plans at this stage. EirGrid again conceded that all landowners needed to be notified.

NEPPC in a statement pointed out that based on the extraordinary revelations on 22nd March they had requested the two inspectors to seek approval from the Planning Board that the hearing be halted. The inspectors had decided to continue with the hearing. NEPPC then wrote to An Bord Pleanála directly, requesting that at least the access route changes and other errata in the planning application be updated on the planning application website, but they had still not received any response. NEPPC said the latest changes made a mockery of the oral hearing and of the planning process itself. NEPPC called on An Bord to halt the oral hearing and take responsibility for not allowing the public’s time and money to be wasted by what they said were EirGrid’s farcical activities.

Spokesman Padraig O’Reilly said: “EirGrid is being allowed to make wholesale changes to its planning application on an ongoing basis, without so much as a query from ABP. It looks like EirGrid is running the show all by itself. In the latest letter received by landowners, where they have been informed of changes to accessing their lands, EirGrid states in relation to the ongoing oral hearing that “We will of course facilitate any submission you may wish to make arising from this modified access route”.

“The official position from An Bord was that anyone who wanted to make a submission to the oral hearing firstly had to have made a written submission by August 24th 2015 and then submit a request to make an oral submission by February 4th 2016. Yet EirGrid were now writing to landowners as if it was representing An Bord Pleanála (ABP) and making up their own rules for the oral hearing participation. ABP needs to quickly get a grip here before the whole integrity of the process in general is destroyed. It is simply not acceptable to sit on its hands and watch EirGrid take this brazen approach”, he said.

“NEPPC is yet again calling on elected representatives to put an end to this farcical situation. EirGrid is making a mockery of the strategic infrastructure process for a second time in five years. We cannot have a situation where a state company can remain immune to accountability and in so doing drain public confidence and bring the strategic infrastructure process into disrepute”, the statement added.

Mary Marron of the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee said what was going on was an absolute disgrace. She wondered if more information was going to be added during the rest of the hearing. People had been coming into the hearing and pointing out to EirGrid errors in the access routes. If this was what was going to happen continually then the remaining landowners due to make submissions would have to decide if there was any point.

Monaghan Fine Gael Councillor Sean Gilliland said he found EirGrid’s approach to be absolutely insulting to the An Bord and to the local communities in the county. EirGrid believed they had identified issues with access routes but it was the public who had done so. Cllr Gilliland wondered if the environmental impact reports were wrong then were the health reports flawed as well? Our lives and the future of our young people are in your hands, he told the inspectors.

Cllr Gilliland said the planning application was flawed. On behalf of people in this rural part of Ireland he said he was begging the inspectors to consider the recent submissions made by landowners and householders, all of whom objected to the overhead power lines. What was happening was unjust and absolutely contrary to democracy and civil rights. It was not morally right nor would it ever be. They were being pushed into the mud by EirGrid who were taking information and re-presenting it in submissions they did not understand.

 

 

 

INTERCONNECTOR: NEPPC

DSC_0107.JPG

Sign at entrance to field near Teltown, Co. Meath close to proposed power line route

Further significant changes by EirGrid 8 weeks into 

Oral Hearing make a mockery of the planning process

NEPPC calls for An Bord Pleanála to put an end to ‘this costly charade’

On the 22nd March, during week 3 of the Oral hearing into the North-South Interconnector application EirGrid announced a number of major flaws in its planning application and made a request to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) to change 19 access entrances and routes to landowner properties. The landowners had neither been notified of nor consulted on these plans at this stage. EirGrid conceded that all landowners needed to be notified.

This week, on Tuesday 26th April, during week 8 of the Oral Hearing, EirGrid yet again announced, without any prior notice, a further request to ABP to change an additional 18 access routes and also make 22 ‘minor deviations’ to access route maps. The affected landowners, similar to the situation pertaining on the 22nd March, had neither been notified of nor consulted on these plans at this stage. EirGrid again conceded that all landowners needed to be notified.

Based on the extraordinary revelations at the hearing on 22nd March the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign requested the Senior Inspectors to seek approval from the Board that the hearing be halted. The Senior Inspectors instead decided to continue with the hearing. NEPPC wrote to the Board directly, requesting that at least the access route changes and other errata in the planning application be updated on the planning application website, but has still not received any response.

These latest changes, announced at 5pm on Tuesday evening, just prior to the conclusion of the oral hearing for this week, makes a mockery of the oral hearing and of the ABP process itself. NEPPC is calling on ABP to halt this oral hearing and take responsibility for not allowing the public’s time and money to be wasted by EirGrid’s farcical activities.

“EirGrid is being allowed to make wholesale changes to its planning application on an ongoing basis, without so much as a query from ABP. It looks like EirGrid is running the show all by itself. In the latest letter received by landowners yesterday, where they have been informed of changes to accessing their lands, EirGrid states in relation to the ongoing Oral hearing that “We will of course facilitate any submission you may wish to make arising from this modified access route”. The official position from ABP is that anyone who wanted to make a submission to the oral hearing had firstly to have made a written submission by August 24th 2015 and then submit a request to make an oral submission by February 4th 2016. Yet here we now have EirGrid writing to landowners as if it is representing An Bord Pleanála (ABP) and making up its own rules for the Oral Hearing participation. ABP needs to quickly get a grip here before the whole integrity of the process in general is destroyed. It is simply not acceptable to sit on its hands and watch EirGrid take this brazen approach”

“NEPPC is yet again calling on our elected representatives to put an end to this farcical situation. EirGrid is making a mockery of the strategic infrastructure process for a second time in five years. We cannot have a situation where a state company can remain immune to accountability and in so doing drain public confidence and bring the strategic infrastructure process into disrepute”.

INTERCONNECTOR WEEK8

MONAGHAN LANDOWNERS TELL EIRGRID: NO PYLONS

MICHAEL FISHER  Northern Standard p.1  Thursday 28th April 2016

EirGrid has been accused of making up their application as they go along and turning the planning procedure into an absolute disgrace during the oral hearing into the proposed North/South electricity interconnector. It follows the introduction by the company for the third time of modified access routes along narrow country lanes that would be used by contractors building the latticed steel pylons and erecting the power lines. 32 separate changes have now been made by EirGrid since the hearing began last month.

On day 26 of the oral hearing a lawyer for EirGrid Jarlath Fitzsimons SC said there had been an ongoing review of the 584 temporary routes identified. Six new ones had been notified to An Bord Pleanála on the first day at the Nuremore Hotel on March 7th. Nineteen further changes were made a fortnight later following the discovery of discrepancies in mapping. Shortly before the close of the proceedings on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Fitzsimons revealed seven more modifications that had been made to the access routes. A further eleven mapping modifications were identified for the access routes, most of them minor. The lawyer said EirGrid had responded in a positive way to observations made by landowners during the hearing regarding specific tower locations.

Temporary access routes are included in the planning application to enable An Bord Pleanála to conduct an environmental assessment of all aspects of the proposed development. EirGrid spokesperson David Martin said: “With a total of 584 temporary access routes in the planning application, it is understandable that modifications to a small number have been proposed as information comes from observations made at the oral hearing and also from the continuing reviews.”

“In order to enter the area for the proposed development, we have identified 584 temporary access routes. Over the course of the oral hearing, we have listened with interest to the detailed submissions given by landowners along the proposed line route. Several landowners have focused on the detail of the temporary access routes. This feedback has been very helpful as we endeavour to provide the most convenient access routes possible for landowners.”

The hearing in Carrickmacross in front of two Bord Pleanála inspectors is now in its eighth week and is not expected to finish until the end of May. It’s one of the longest such planning enquiries into what is one of the largest ever infrastructure projects in the state. EirGrid is proposing to erect a 400kV high voltage line with 400 pylons from Woodland in Co. Meath across parts of Cavan and Meath into Co. Armagh and finishing at Turleenan near the Moy in Co. Tyrone.

Mary Marron of the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee said what was going on was an absolute disgrace. She wondered if more information was going to be added during the rest of the hearing. People had been coming into the hearing and pointing out to EirGrid errors in the access routes. If this was what was going to happen continually then the remaining landowners due to make submissions would have to decide if there was any point.

Monaghan Fine Gael Councillor Sean Gilliland said he found EirGrid’s approach to be absolutely insulting to the An Bord and to the local communities in the county. EirGrid believed they had identified issues with access routes but it was the public who had done so. Earlier in the day a problem had been pointed out by a landowner with EirGrid’s proposed use of a 9m stone wall embankment as an access point to a field.

Cllr Gilliland wondered if the environmental impact reports were wrong then were the health reports flawed as well? The community did not have the capability or the qualifications that the other side had. Our lives and the future of our young people are in your hands, he told the inspectors.

Cllr Gilliland said the planning application was flawed. On behalf of people in this rural part of Ireland he said he was begging the inspectors to consider the recent submissions made by landowners and householders, all of whom objected to the overhead power lines. What was happening was unjust and absolutely contrary to democracy and civil rights. It was not morally right nor would it ever be. They were being pushed into the mud by EirGrid who were taking information and re-presenting it in submissions they did not understand.

He was warmly applauded as was Margaret Marron of the CMAPC. She told the hearing she was absolutely appalled at the new information that had emerged. It was just incredible and the landowners were doing all the work for EirGrid, she said. The hearing is due to sit on three days next week, from Tuesday until Thursday and provision has been made for it to run until the fourth week in May.

SITTING DATES: (Resuming with more Monaghan landowners)

Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th May

Monday 9th May to Friday 13th May

Monday 23rd May to Friday 27th May

INTERCONNECTOR: BRITTAS ESTATE

BRITTASGATE.JPG

Entrance Gate and Gate Lodge at Brittas Estate, Nobber, Co. Meath, close to where the proposed power lines would pass  Pic: Michael Fisher

EFFECT OF EIRGRID’S INTERCONNECTOR PLAN ON BRITTAS ESTATE EXPOSED AT ORAL HEARING

MICHAEL FISHER Meath Chronicle Saturday 30th April (WEEK 7)

Probing questions to EirGrid by a lawyer acting for the Brittas estate near Nobber in Co. Meath have revealed what anti-pylon campaigners believe are several inadequacies in the planning application for the North/South interconnector. An oral hearing by two inspectors from An Bord Pleanála is now in its eighth week. EirGrid has said the detailed environmental impact statement it submitted has complied with the relevant Irish and EU regulations.

Michael O’Donnell BL acting for the owners of Brittas House and demesne Neville Jessop and Oinri Jackson asked EirGrid why no site specific details were provided regarding construction of the proposed pylons, the felling of a section of mature woodland, and the impact the proposed line would have on the views from a wing of the house built in 1732 and incorporating an earlier residence from 1672. The house was extended in the 18th Century and a ballroom wing, designed by Francis Johnston (architect of the GPO), was added in the early 19th Century. The house is located approximately 430m to the east of the proposed development.

Three ringforts are within 400m of the proposed line. According to an archaeological consultant for EirGrid, Declan Moore, these monuments will have their setting impacted on by the proposed development. The environmental impact statement explained that as much as was practicably possible the topography of the area had been used to keep impacts on the setting of Brittas House to a minimum. Mr Moore found that where the proposed development crossed the entrance avenue, there would be no views of the house and likewise in the vicinity of the house there were no views of the proposed development. But he added that there was the potential there may be views from some of the upstairs windows of the house, especially during the winter months. The impact on the setting of the house was in his view slight to moderate.

Questioned by Mr O’Donnell, Mr Moore said he had not entered the demesne as permission had not been granted but he had carried out from the public road a visual inspection of some of the three archaeological monuments inside it. He insisted that the development would have no direct physical impact on any such monument. He also repeated a number of times that there were no national monuments within the demesne.

This was disputed by the lawyer for the owners. He revealed that a ministerial letter had been sent out in July 1997 to the then owners referring to a monument in the townland of Brittas with details of preservation requirements.

At a previous module Neville Jessop explained how one of the access routes proposed by EirGrid to a pylon site would require concrete lorries to pass over an old bridge which had cracks in the stonework. He told the company the access bridge was not available because of its condition. Any repair work that needed to be done on the structure would require notification to the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht. A lawyer for EirGrid said on Tuesday it did not know the bridge had been closed for health and safety reasons.

The previous week Michael O’Donnell BL told the hearing sheer devastation would be caused to the Brittas estate if EirGrid’s proposed power line with pylons was allowed to proceed. He referred to the inadequacy of the EirGrid documentation and claimed it was not acceptable under Irish planning law or EU rules. The company was treating the public with a level of contempt, he said.

Mr O’Donnell pointed out that Brittas was a protected structure equal to any other great Irish house such as Castletown, Carton or Russborough. Every structure in the demesne had the same status. It was an extraordinarily important piece of landscape with its own eco system. It was about to be devastated by a 400kV line traversing it, going through a section of mature woodland that would have to be removed.

This part of the oral hearing has been devoted to specific landowner and public issues from Co. Meath and near Loughinlea mountain in Co. Cavan, a popular tourist area.

EirGrid was accused of spending its money on things like sponsorship of the Virginia pumpkin festival, the GAA (under 21 and Australian Rules), two local radio current affairs programmes and advertising in local media. A company spokesman said a key finding of a number of reviews of EirGrid’s operations and engagement with the wider community had shown the need for effective communication of the necessity for grid infrastructure to ensure a safe and sustainable electricity supply. As part of the company’s strategy to address this, it was placing an emphasis on improving how it communicated its role, including through advertising and sponsorship.

David Martin said “We welcome the strong engagement from landowners, public representatives and community members at the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing. The oral hearing provides an opportunity for all relevant information to be brought before An Bord Pleanála, and ensures that their concerns are addressed. We encourage all landowners and concerned residents to attend over coming weeks. If you would like more information on any aspect of the project, you can talk to our team on the ground, or drop in to our offices in Navan or Carrickmacross. Contact details for our Community Liaison Officer Gráinne Duffy and Agricultural Liaison Officer John Boylan are at www.eirgrid.com. Since submitting our planning application for the interconnector in June 2015, we have continued to engage with communities in Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.”

EirGrid said the consideration of alternatives to an overhead line, including underground cables (both cross-country and along public roads), had been outlined its planning application. This has relied on a suite of reports prepared by the government, third parties and EirGrid itself. One of these, prepared by PB Power, showed that an underground cable option is considerably more expensive, at €670 million more that overhead lines.

The government-appointed Independent Expert Commission found that an underground cable option would be €333million more expensive. The reason for the difference in these figures was that the PB Power report studied a cross-country option, while the IEC report considered a roadside route. The company said a further detailed study of roads in the project area had shown that the use of the M3 and local roads was simply not suitable for the interconnector project.

When considering alternatives for the project, cost was just one factor. Underground cables would also not be as reliable as overhead lines, causing greater complexity and greater risk. EirGrid said it also studied the use of disused railway lines and a subsea option for cables but they were not viable options for this project.

The presence of the North South Interconnector, should it receive planning permission, will provide benefit to communities in the North East, according to EirGrid. As with a bypass, the project would provide an alternative route for power flows, freeing up power in the region. This would allow large businesses to tap into the line, providing an opportunity for local investment and employment.

INTERCONNECTOR DAY26

DAY TWENTY-SIX

This section involved landowners and groups from Co. Monaghan

SEAN DUFFY, Drumguillew Lower, was represented by his mother Mary Duffy as he is in Australia at the moment. He had inherited ten acres of land from his uncle in February 2011. There had been no contact with EirGrid about their plans to build two pylons and a power line near the dwelling house. Mrs Duffy said there was also a plan to put two pylons on her daughter’s land at Drumhowan, one of which EirGrid had now moved across a ditch onto a neighbour’s land.

NIGEL HILLIS of the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee said there could have been another technical solution without moving that particular pylon. He claimed that EirGrid had been in breach of the Aarhus Convention on public consultation and EU directives. The proposed line design stretched back to 2011 and was followed with a preferred solution report and then a final line design that the EirGrid board had approved according to the Chief Executive. The company had years to get it right and after all this they had decided to move eleven of the pylons on the proposed route when the planning application was submitted last year.

BRENDAN MARKEY, Greagh, was represented by Sean Gilliland. He did not want pylons on his land. Cllr Gilliland said the proposed access lane for construction of two pylons on Mr Markey’s land was only 8’6” wide with a water pipe below it and two other pipes alongside. It would most certainly be damaged if heavy machinery used it.

The lane was very special as there were visible badger tracks and badger setts that were monitored by the Department of Agriculture and NPWS. The power line would be a ruination of the rural countryside and way of life.

GABRIEL MOONEY, Greagh, was joined by his father Bernard in making a submission. They had huge concerns over the project. They lived 200m up a lane that EirGrid planned to use to access one of the pylons for construction. The lane was in frequent use by family members daily and they would be disrupted if heavy machinery was going to use the lane. He asked who would be responsible if there was an accident on the lane, or if it gave way under the heavy loads that would have to pass along it. Could EirGrid guarantee the safety of his young children while the proposed work was taking place? He also wondered if the company could guarantee that they would not in their lifetime experience any health effects from living beside the proposed high voltage lines.

He expressed concern that their homes and properties would be devalued and worth next to nothing in future. Nobody would want to live near these grotesque pylons, he said. The lines would destroy totally the aesthetic appearance of their locality.

He concluded: “We are all proud Irish people, proud of our democracy. We have the power to elect our public representatives; we have the power to decide if there are changes to our Constitution. We express our democratic right by voting and we accept the outcome. The people of Monaghan, Cavan and Meath had voted unanimously against this overhead power line. EirGrid should accept this fact and scrap this proposed project”.

LEO MARRON, Greagh, said the pylons would be an attack on our freedom to live according to our own traditions and own choices, currently and into the future. We could no longer sell our property or hand it onto the next generation. We could not develop it as a viable enterprise and make more of it as previous generations did.

I left my parcel of land with an estate agent in February and told him to be open and honest with all inquiries. The land was advertised locally and internationally but there have been no offers. Such is the mistrust that EirGrid have instilled among the people of our community that I took the land off the market as we feared EirGrid would use the opportunity to walk the land and gather information for their own purposes. I have no doubt that the threat of this pylon has affected the value of my land and other properties in the local area.

I face particular challenges with a disability that means I must meticulously plan my work days and weeks ahead and ensure I have adequate support to carry out my daily duties. EirGrid interference would interrupt this planning., becoming another obstacle I could live without and making farming almost impossible for the duration of the construction. The two months stated by EirGrid are only the tip of the iceberg though, as there will be continuous interference by EirGrid for a further three years and ongoing into the future. This will undoubtedly be the end of my way of life.

I have worked for years to increase the productivity of my land, digging shores to dry the land. Still it is soft in places and heavy construction would damage these land drains and undo the work I have laboured so hard over. Can EirGrid inform us here as to the weight of the pylons and measures they would take to mitigate the damage caused to my land? Or are EirGrid even aware of these factors? It appears that EirGrid have not properly assessed the land and have no idea really as to the possible consequences of building a huge pylon in my field. Also I wonder are EirGrid aware of the dangerous blind spot that exists on this apparently straight stretch of road? All households here are aware of how devious this stretch of road is. The heavy construction vehicles and increased traffic that EirGrid will bring will compound factors and make a fatal accident all the more likely. EirGrid have boasted of their strict timetabling of construction. This evidently could place pressure on contractors to reach deadlines and take short cuts on health and safety: which should come first? With so many homes surrounding the construction site I do not trust EirGrid to put the interests of families and children first. Rather it seems that profit and scheduling comes before the people and community. I wish to draw to your attention an article in the Farmers Journal dated October 11th 2014 which described the ESBs laissez-faire approach to pole removal that damaged a contractor’s harvester and left a hole in his pocket. It seems to me that EirGrid’s approach to planning and execution of these pylons will be no better and could leave many farmers out of out of pocket due to similar damage caused. EirGrid have forfeited all confidence in their abilities and no farmer would agree to allow them onto their land to destroy it.

The field on which EirGrid plan to construct this pylon is flat and poses a real and significant eyesore to a number of neighbours. It is cruel and unfair that their homes too should suffer the indignation of this towering pylon and the loss of value to their homes. To EirGrid this is all business and nothing personal but to us it’s very personal.

I also have more land in Ardragh where I am being affected by construction between pylons 190 and 191. The shared lane serves many farms and homes and as such heavy vehicles would pose a significant risk. Damage to the surface of the lane would be inevitable and have unfair and lasting consequences for those who rely on it. Furthermore there is a well that is under the lane which has historical significance that leads back to the famine era and has been minded for generations. I have an uncle who will turn 100 this year and used this well for drinking water from a child. Heavy vehicles would destroy this important piece of heritage and history and I doubt EirGrid are even aware of its existence. There are in fact several other errors in the proposed plan I could point out to EirGrid, but I would feel foolish pointing them out to such educated men.

ANN MCARDLE, Brackley, was represented by her son COLM MCARDLE. He said they were not happy about having pylons on their land. In their original application EirGrid had proposed an access route for construction that went through an embankment onto the pylon field. The access was then changed through their back yard. They wondered how this would affect the milking of cows and moving them around the farm.

BYRNE FAMILY, Brackley

Briege Byrne said the family home sits between proposed Pylon 162 and Pylon 163, The overhead power lines would run for 80 metres along our land and right over our sheep’s house. The overhead power lines will be 62.5 metres from our family home. This is the only land parcel we own and it is home to our livestock.

EirGrid wants to access our land to facilitate stringing of the overhead power line – they do not have our permission to enter our land.

EirGrid wants to use our private entrance to access our land with large, heavy construction machinery. They will have great difficulty navigating in a slope, off a busy main road, on a bad bend; onto wet boggy soft ground all year round which floods regularly.

Quote from EirGrid:

“The 0.7 hectare land parcel with beef enterprise is located in Brackley Co. Monaghan. The sensitivity is medium. There is a yard/farm building located approximately 30 meters north west of the proposed overhead power lines”.

The land parcel is not 0.7 of a hectare; it is only 0.5 of a hectare of land. The farmyard/building is not 30 metres from the overhead power lines it is right under the power lines.

EirGrid propose that they will need 65 metres of an access track to facilitate stringing of overhead Power lines at a loss of 10% of the land parcel. “Pre-mitigation the impact is moderate adverse”.

We use our field by split grazing, so the field is divided in half. The half EirGrid wants to access has our sheep’s house – which will have the overhead power line running over it – and is used to summer graze if possible as this is when it is at its driest, although our sheep will be rotated on it all year round as required.

“The construction disturbance impact is short term (generally less than 12 months) the magnitude of construction impact is low and the significance is slight adverse”.

How can EirGrid say it is short term? This is our home, our lives, our animals; the impact has already commenced and shall be engraved on the land for an eternity. EirGrid want access for 12 months. How are we going to split graze? How are we going to feed our sheep? How are we going to access our sheep’s house? To say the impact is low is hurtful and demoralising.

EirGrid say “There will be a low level of disturbance”.

This is not a true reflection. There will be a high level of disturbance. When EirGrid are finished we will be unable to use our field, we will be unable to feed our sheep, we will be unable to house our sheep and after 12 months of large heavy construction machinery, the land will be more like a building site than a grazing field – it will be ruined and we will be left with our home 62.5 metres from the overhead power line with a view of pylon 162, Pylon 163 and Pylon 164. We have 80 metres of overhead power line on our land, land we cannot use, left sterile due to the health risks this poses on us and our animals along with the constant humming and cracking sound of the overhead power lines. We see all of this as a high level of disturbance.

“There is a high impact on farm buildings and their potential expansion due to location of power lines 30 metres from yard”.

Our farm building is our sheep’s house and it is right under the power lines, this means our sheep cannot be housed in this area. Where shall we house our sheep as we only have a small parcel of land, which means we cannot build on our land.

“The impact magnitude is high and the significance of the residual impact is moderate adverse”. This overhead power line will have an immediate and detrimental impact on our health and the value of our home and land. EirGrid say this will have a low environmental impact. How can they say this? They have not stood on the land and how can they say what the environmental impact an overhead power line will have?

“Hedges land trees may be cut back within 30 metres of the overhead power lines”.

What about the hedgerow on our land? The power lines shall be running over this hedgerow. The hedgerow is home to wildlife and offers a feeding ground for many lives such as birds and bats. The river beside our land runs alongside this hedgerow. What about all the fish and creatures in the water? How can anyone say that there will be a low environmental impact when hedgerows shall be removed and rivers disturbed?

As well as the ground animals and birds we must also look up and realise that we are also on the flight path for swans and ducks. Just over the field from our home lies Barraghy Lake. The swans and ducks fly back and forth on a regular basis. These wires shall be in their direct flight pathway. We are worried that these birds may end up in the wires.

In short this is our field gone, our land gone, no grazing for our sheep, no roaming for our hens, the hedges gone: which has a knock-on effect – no birds, bats rabbits to name a few – the river that runs along the hedge tampered with and in effect gone.

What about our health and the health of our livestock? Our sheep are so close to this overhead power line. How can we be sure they will be safe? Could this cause the sheep to miscarry, have lambs born with deformities? Also our hens roam freely through the field. What about their wellbeing? They supply the family home with eggs – will we be able to keep our hens? Will we be able to consume their eggs? Our spring well is 50 feet from the overhead power lines – can we still use this water? These questions highlight that the environmental risk is high rather than low.

My child visits the family home on a regular basis. How can I visit the family home knowing that I run the risk of putting my child’s health at risk for e.g. leukaemia and other disorders? I cannot do this to the next generation.We should be protecting them not putting them at risk. Life is precious and should be cherished not put at risk because EirGrid want to erect pylons.

Along with my child’s physical wellbeing I am also extremely concerned about the physical and mental wellbeing of my parents, they have reared their children and put a lot of time and love into building a safe environment for me and my siblings and for us to be able to bring our children back to the family home, but this will be shattered. From the day that talk of this interconnection commenced it has had an impact on our emotional wellbeing. We are upset and stressed due to the possible erection of this interconnection. We will have nothing left by the time EirGrid are finished. We also need to be aware that there is a physical strain placed on every single person who is here today and is affected by EirGrid’s proposals. We can see the physical strain on people. We also need to be mindful of the mental strain this project is placing on people; this is very concerning as we sit and listen to families plead for their lands to be left untouched. We are getting a taste of how people feel as we listen to the stories of how a power line can rip through a person and put them under emotional and physical strain. Is it worth putting people under this pressure and strain? The answer is NO!

PEADAR CONNOLLY, Chairman of Lough Egish Community Development Company Ltd that runs the Food Park said overhead pylons would have a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of all in the Aughnamullen community. He explained the history of the food park which he said provided food to people from all corners of the island, from meat to dairy to eggs and dry foods. He pointed out that he had difficulty accessing any environmental impact statement on EirGrid’s web page.

(This was immediately checked by the company’s representatives who told the inspectors all the relevant EIS information had been put on a dedicated website set up at the request of An Bord Pleanála and which was found to be working properly).

Mr Connolly said he was extremely concerned about the adverse effect the overhead power line would have on the food park and the livelihood of local people. EirGrid, he claimed, had failed to demonstrate the safety distance for the food industry and employees regarding EMF emissions from 400kV power lines. He feared that a stigma might arise from the location of their food products not far from the high voltage cables and once it arose then they would be out of business. It was a risk he was not willing or able to take. He urged An Bord to ignore any pressures that might be exerted on them to fast-track the proposed project and to be mindful that the health and wellbeing of all citizens in the affected areas and generations to come were in their hands.

INA and CHARLES HEGAN, Brackley, made a submission in which they said the EirGrid plan would have a number of disastrous consequences for their farm, house, family and livestock. One pylon would be close to the front of their house. There would be a severe visual impact. There would be an immediate and detrimental effect on the value of their farm. The overhead cables would create a substantial risk to using farm machinery. There had been no proper consultation with them, she said.

DOMINIC HARTE, Brackley, also expressed concern about devaluation of his home and property and the visual impact of the pylons. He also questioned whether sufficient provision had been made for flight diverters on the power lines to take account of the flight paths of wildlife at two local lakes. He also enquired about the procedure that would be used for inspecting the power lines, if they got approval.

MICHAEL HALPIN, Barraghy, was represented by Briege Byrne. My home sits between pylons 163 and 164. The power line will run on the edge of my land. EirGrid propose to access pylon 164 by using a lane which is owned by my neighbours Mr and Mrs Charlie Hagan. This lane runs parallel with my own driveway and on past the front door of my house into Mr Hagan’s field where pylon 164 is to be erected. This lane is not capable of taking heavy farm machinery as it is soft ground that runs along a river. From the picture you will see that the edge of the lane which is not defined by a hedgerow is about 4 feet from my front door. This would pose a serious problem for EirGrid. How do they propose to turn in off the road on a bend, go up a soft narrow lane 4 foot from my front door with heavy construction machinery? It is not possible. The machinery would be rubbing off my porch, I would not be fit to use my front doorway. EirGrid will need to cut down my mature trees which are very close to my house. These mature trees are home to a lot of wildlife and bats. This is not acceptable.

Over the last number of years I have spent a lot of time and money updating my house and land. These pylons and overhead power lines are so close to my home that both my home and my land would be worthless, devaluing everything I have worked for. It would leave living in my own home very hard due to the impact on my health and wellbeing.

PAURIC CONNELLY, Barraghy, was represented by Sean Gilliland. EirGrid had not convinced him that there was no medically adverse activity arising from the pylons. The proposed line would be a desecration of the landscape.

Cllr Gilliland asked if EirGrid could inform the hearing how much his land would be devalued if the project was allowed. He had very real concerns and wanted to know if he would get planning permission for any sites to provide new homes if they were near the power lines.

EILEEN MCGUIGAN a neighbour said her home was her castle. She had six grandchildren and was concerned about possible health hazards if a pylon was built nearby. “No pylons—NO-NO-NO!” she stressed. She was applauded as she concluded.

PHIL GEOGHEGAN, Drumillard, was represented by Sean Gilliland. Mr Geoghegan shared access to his holding with seven other people. It was a private lane and they had all contributed to tarring it and contributing to the upkeep. If damage was caused by contractors’ traffic using the lane for access to a pylon construction site, he wanted to know who would pay for it? Mr Geoghegan was totally and utterly opposed to the proposed pylon on his land. Cllr Gilliland pointed out that there were already three power lines crossing his farm and now there could be seven or eight. There would not be much room left on his land holding. He also mentioned that problems had arisen regarding compensation at another infrastructure development in the county.

PATRICK MARRON, was also represented by Sean Gilliland.

Mr Marron, a farmer, had not received any information to date from EirGrid regarding a plan to use part of his land as a guarding location for one of the pylons. He was anxious about this and wondered how EirGrid had managed to put in a planning application without conculting the person who owned the ground for the planned tower. Cllr Gilliland also pointed out that the proposed access route belonged to someone else, a Mr Connolly (see below).

ROBERT ARTHUR of ESB International said in many instances access to pylons went across third party land. He would endeavour to get the details regarding that particular holding.

SEAN GILLILAND pointed out that this landowner was known to EirGrid as maps had been sent to him regarding the previous application. So the company was very well aware of the owner. There had been correspondence with Mr Marron in December 2013, so this was not a case where EirGrid was not aware of who owned the parcels of land.

PATRICK CONNOLLY, Tooa, a landowner, told the hearing he had not received any communication from EirGrid regarding a proposed access route to pylon 170 on the land of the Ward family. When this divergence of opinion became clear a coffee break was called by the presiding inspector.

Upon investigation, EirGrid lawyer Jarlath Fitzsimons said a letter had been sent by tracked mail to Damian and Patrick Connolly on 29th May 2015. It was delivered on to an address at Tooey, Shantonagh, Castleblayney at 9:31am on 4th June 2015, according to a postal track and trace.

Cllr Gilliland said it was strange that a separate letter had not gone out to the two names on the holding, if two parties were involved. He continued to press for information about the proposed access routes that were being used to pylons. One of them, he said, was so overgrown that you could not even wheel a wheelbarrow in there, let alone deliver any concrete unless it was in a bucket.

Following this exchange EirGrid introduced new information regarding seven access routes and eleven minor changes arising from map inaccuracies.

JARLATH FITZSIMONS SC for EirGrid said the application before the Board was for an overhead line and there was no proposal to underground the line. Let’s be clear about it, he told the inspectors. He also said a number of issues raised regarding land valuation, health and tourism had already been answered in previous modules.

INTERCONNECTOR DAY25

DAY TWENTY-FIVE

This section involved landowners and groups from Co. Monaghan

HUGH WOODS, Cornamucklagh North, and his nephew DAMIEN WOODS were represented by a neighbour Jim McNally. Hugh Woods is 88 and is a bachelor. Mr McNally said Mr Woods was in hospital at the moment. The whole planning process had contributed to the worry and stress that he had to cope with, since it first came to his notice in 2007.

Hughie Woods came from a different generation, who worked very hard all their lives to maintain their farm holdings in the best possible condition and in harmony with the landscape. They had a personal knowledge by name of all their animals, their lineage, maintaining their welfare and the welfare of the environment where they grazed. The land parcel description provided by EirGrid stated that the sensitivity was medium, and noted that there were yard/farm buildings located approximately 60m NW of the proposed overhead line.

Mr McNally said Hughie Woods had telephoned him early on after the project was announced. He stated he was afraid to return to his house when he saw a car (with an EirGrid official) arriving unannounced and without prior appointment. He got a leaflet from EirGrid in the door on that particular day. He went on: “This policy employed by EirGrid to “cold call” on elderly farmers with a view to seeking access onto their landholdings is reprehensible in my view and as I have stated previously socially unacceptable. Elderly people are easily duped, are trusting of people they meet and accept people at face value.”

With regards to consultation, Mr Woods would freely admit that he has never used a computer and would not know what the internet is. He got as far as third or fourth class in National School before the war in the1930’s, when computers were not even invented. He had to leave school early to work on the family farm. Mr Woods travels everywhere in his Massey Ferguson tractor: to the local church in Annyalla on Sunday, about three miles, and to his local towns Castleblayney and Ballybay which are about five miles away. The location of an Information office in Carrickmacross, nearly twenty miles away, was well outside the range of Hughie’s tractor travels and was therefore not a viable option. To get a taxi there would be prohibitively expensive on a man who survived on a meagre income. Even if Hughie had received the enormous amount of material provided by EirGrid, he would have encountered great difficulty in interpreting the information and the personal impact it would have on his own farm holding.

The proposed 400kV powerline would cut a swathe through the centre of Hughie’s farmholding. There would be little room left to maintain a viable farm enterprise. The proposed access route had a mature tree located between a hayshed and outbuildings that had not identified by the Lidar orthophotography. If Lidar orthophotography imagery could not identify static features on the ground, such as significant mature trees and outbuildings, what therefore were the chances of it identifying the detailed features of hedgerows, protected species of flora and fauna such as bats and badger? Desk-based studies were no substitute for site specific visits and could not be relied upon by An Bord in evaluating the accuracy of the environmental impact statement and planning application. It was necessary to walk the ground in order to prepare a proper planning application that was accurate and could be relied upon.

Hughie’s outhouses and calfsheds would have to be demolished to facilitate access. The trauma such construction or demolition activity would have on an 88 year-old man could not be measured or summarised in a submission. These buildings were part of Hughie’s history and heritage and were embedded in his memory. Access was not possible for Eirgrid through Hughie’s pumphouse and a mature tree, which were between the hayshed and the outbuildings.

Pylon 126 would be 80m from Hughie’s house. He would be reminded daily as he sat in his living room of the overbearing presence of a large steel structure and powerlines within a short viewing distance from his window. The peaceful rural countryside lifestyle and sounds of the dawn chorus in springtime would be replaced by the rasping noise of a corner pylon and powerlines. The impact this would have on Hughie’s mental wellbeing was immeasurable; his way of life would be irrevocably changed.

At the stringing location, north of tower 126, EirGrid proposed to make an access through an unbroken mature hedge into an adjoining field. There was a badger sett entrance in the hedgerow. Badgers and their setts were strictly protected under the Wildlife Amendment Act 2000. There was widespread evidence on the ground that badgers were very active in this area, but the EIS at this location made no reference to them.

Hughie Woods and his nephew were totally opposed to this proposed intrusion onto his farm by EirGrid, which has worried him greatly over the last few years and is having a detrimental impact on his health. The method employed by EirGrid of “cold calling” on Hughie Woods, with a view to seeking access on to his landholding, without him having advance notice, or the opportunity of having a family representative present, was inexcusable and could not be condoned under any circumstances. The consultation process was non existent and out of reach for Hughie Woods. The access route up a narrow laneway, through his gate post and outbuildings, is not practical and highlighted the inadequacies of Lidar orthophotography, the dissection of his landholding rendering it useless over an extended period and the impact on long established and legally protected badger setts in his hedgerows is contrary to proper environmental planning.

Mr McNally asked the inspectors to take in to consideration the concerns of elderly landowners who had dedicated their lives to farming their small farmholding during difficult times and who wished to be left alone in their twilight years to enjoy their retirement without excessive worry. He urged An Bord Pleanála to reject the proposed overhead powerline in favour of an alternative and achievable HVDC underground option.

MALACHY SMYTH, Derryhalla, spoke on his own behalf and that of his wife, three children, his brother Gerry, neighbours Eugene Brennan and Gerry Carragher and his mother. EirGrid was proposing to put a power line close to his home and his mother’s home. His three girls aged 13, 11 and 7 often played football with their friends in the field that the 400kV line would cross. This was their playground.

This field was safe. He could carry out farm work and keep a close eye on them. Why should his children and friends fall victim of EirGrid’s greed, so they could build a cheap power line? “Are they second class citizens? To me they are certainly not”, he said. The pylons were being put in either non-residential farmland or elderly farmers’ land. Did EirGrid think these people were soft targets? That was not the case.

EirGrid had put a notice in the Northern Standard every week which said “We’re here to talk.” Today I am here to talk, Mr Smyth said. He hoped EirGrid were there to listen.

“I sat in this hotel for two days last week watching EirGrid experts and legal teams trying NOT to answer questions put to them. I felt they made a pretty good job of doing this. If one expert had difficulty achieving this, then it was quickly passed on to a colleague. Even Mr Google was called into action on their laptops on a few occasions. This process has now been going on for the last nine years. How much longer has it to continue until EirGrid get the message that we will not accept these pylons, he said.

I have concern about my small dairy herd of 25 cows, access routes to pylons 128-129, my brother’s only right of way to his farm. I am sure as everyone from EirGrid and thir legal teams leave this lovely hotel today having listened to us farmers and landowners moan about our problems with this 400kV power line they will like to get home to their communities, relax and unwind with their family. I also like to unwind with my family. I like to take my children around the farm, let them see the wonderful gift of nature at work, the birds building their nests, plants starting to grow, the young calves, lambs playing in the field.

If this 400kV power line is approved by ABP this wonderful way of unwinding will be taken away from me and my family forever. I will be living in the shadow of big ugly pylons. The powerlines these pylons carry will be sending down pain on my children. Poison I will not be able to see, feel or touch. From what I heard last week I will hear it on a damp day. I have a small milking herd of cows. If milk becomes unsafe for human consumption who is responsible? What would happen if there was an accident on the access lane?

PEADAR MCSKEANE, Cargaghramer, was accompanied by his daughter CIARA BRENNAN. She said EirGrid was planning to put up a pylon on a field where her father had an outfarm and very close to site where her brother proposed to build a house. Her father was now in a limbo situation, waiting to see if the line would be put underground, while his son was living in rented accommodation.

She pointed out that the proposed access route for construction of the pylon was along a neighbour’s lane that was only suitable for residential traffic and not heavy machinery. There was a Mass rock on the site where Mass was celebrated every year. The proposed power line with a monstrosity of a pylon was unreal and they did not want it on their land. It would be a serious inconvenience, she said.

JOHN HUGHES, Drumroosk, was represented by Nigel Hillis. EirGrid was planning to build a pylon on his land. The foundation for two of the four legs would be in very wet ground. Mr Hillis questioned how the tower would be constructed in order to have the least impact and ensure there was no pollution to a nearby spring wxell that served the house and farm. There was an existing 110kV power line beside Mr Hughes’ home and if the overhead interconnector went ahead he would be surrounded by power lines. The devaluation of his land would be immense and would impact on farming practices.

ROSEMARY MOORE, Secretary of Doohamlet District Community Development Association said the proposed interconnector route would pass through the area in the townlands of Crinkill, Cornamucklagh South, Terrygreeghan and Rausker. The line of the pylons would be just over 1km from the heart of the village. That might seem insignificant, but the scale, obtrusiveness and implications of the development would impact on the whole community.

Many experts and specialists had spoken on the health impacts of the development. We cannot add to this discussion, except to say that if there is any question about the health implications of this development, we appeal to An Bord Pleanála to refuse the development to protect the health and wellbeing of our community.

The proposed route and associated pylons have been sited on high points across the Doohamlet area, as evidenced from two photomontages. We do not feel that the locations chosen for these photomontages best illustrate the visual intrusion of the development on the landscape, nor do they clearly show the impact of the proposed bird flight diverters. The proposed route would impact visually on a much wider area than the corridor of land it would occupy.

The power lines across the valleys between these pylons will be very visible, particularly from the R183 Ballybay to Doohamlet road, where travelling east from Ballybay a panoramic view of the drumlin landscape opens up to drivers from a lower lying plain at Ballintra. The pylons will be extremely visible and will be the most intrusive part of the development. They will tower above and dominate our landscape. Where the power lines cross the Ballybay to Castleblayney Road R183 the top of pylon 144 would be 55m higher than road level.

The pylons are elevated compared to the top of the drumlins, and also compared to the lower lying valleys between the drumlins from which the pylons and powerlines will be extremely visible.

Furthermore, bird flight diverters were proposed along the wires, adding to the visual intrusion. There appears to have been no effort made to run the route of the proposed pylons through the natural valleys between the drumlins, which would have reduced the visual intrusion and impact on the landscape.

The unspoilt scenery of Co Monaghan and in particular that of the Doohamlet region was a significant factor and a primary reason in attracting tourists to the area. The many small and tranquil lakes were a major destination for European fishermen during the fishing season.

Tonyscallon Lake where the development association plans to create a walkway and fishing stands is located just 1km east of the proposed route. In one case the tower would be 73m above the landscape. The scale and location of the proposed pylons was totally out of keeping with the area. The proposed interconnector would detract from any recreational and accommodation facilities developed locally. It was essential that the quality and character of the valuable tourist resource be protected now and for generations to come.

Ms Moore said the proposed development would impact significantly on the protected whooper swan. They wanted to safeguard the local whooper swan population for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

We commend Eirgrid for having thorough surveys undertaken at Ballintra plain and do not question their integrity, but there is a huge variation in the numbers of whooper swans their ornithologists counted over a seven year period 2007-2013. We note that whooper swans were only at the site on 21 of these 111 days. We know whooper swans are common and frequent visitors to our area. They have been present for decades. We have no doubt that the surveys were undertaken in accordance with best practice, however the surveys clearly do not adequately record whooper swan numbers in our area. Our concern is that this data and future surveys will ultimately inform decisions as to whether the development should proceed. Given the unpredictability of the whooper swan population day by day, will negative decisions on their protection be taken, both now and in the future?

To mitigate against the detrimental impact the power lines will have on the whooper swan population, bird flight diverters are proposed. We have many questions and concerns about the proposed monitoring and mortality surveys. The proposed bird flight diverters offer no protection to the whooper swans during periods of fog or low visibility. Both the roost and feed sites are regularly prone to localised fog. The lands the whooper swans feed on at Ballintra Plain are at a level of 85m. Their flight path means they must rise up over the drumlin topography to clear drumlins at levels of between 126m and 136m. The power lines are located on the top of the drumlins, meaning the height the whooper swans must clear is even higher – is there a chance that the height of the power lines is directly in the flight path of the whooper swans as they cross the drumlins in this area? Has Eirgrid observed or determined the height of the existing whooper swan flight line as they cross the route of the pylons and compared it with the proposed level of the power lines?

In the absence of any meaningful information about the protection of the whooper swans, we can only assume references to ongoing monitoring and mitigation within the planning application is either lip service or an afterthought, in which case the best interests of the whooper swans and our environment is not a priority for Eirgrid.

We are also concerned at the impact this proposed development will have on other wildlife, in particular the buzzards which have re-colonised the county, and other protected species in the area.

The R183 Ballybay to Castleblayney Road passes through Doohamlet village. It is narrow, with narrow footpaths on both sides. Doohamlet GFC, Church, Community Centre and Community Garden and Doohamlet National School all directly front this busy road. We are already concerned about traffic volumes and traffic speeds. The DDCDA has made many representations to Monaghan County Council in relation to road safety and speed limit issues. We are obviously concerned for the safety of our local residents and the long-standing impacts the additional traffic will have on the local roads infrastructure.

Our community is concerned about the implications of this development on health, sustainable development, the environment and infrastructure, and believes the proposed interconnector will negatively affect all of these aspects of our lives. Our community is opposed to the proposed development and we insist the proposed interconnector should not proceed.

IRENE WARD represented Ballybay Concerned Residents as well as her own land holding at Terrygreeghan. She said the beautiful vista from a housing development at the top of Wylie’s Hill, Ballybay, would be impacted by the power lines and pylons which an EirGrid consultant estimated were approximately 2.7km away. There were also concerns about whether it would affect sporting and social activities at the local GAA pitch on the Castleblayney Road.

JAMES RICE, Derryhallagh, said he would be living close to two pylons if the project went ahead but EirGrid had not extended him the courtesy of sending him a map showing the location of the line. As a person who had worked for twenty years in the area of health and safety, he expressed concern about the possible effects of electric and magnetic fields. He worried about the possible devaluation of his house if the interconnector was approved in its present form. If it went underground, as it should in any civilised society, then he would have peace.

TREVOR FIELD, Terrygreeghan, said he and his wife had received planning permission from Monaghan County Council in November 2011 to build a house in a field owned by his mother-in-law. This was after EirGrid had withdrawn their previous planning application in June 2010. The first indication they had that EirGrid was re-considering the project was in 2013 when maps were sent to his mother-in-law showing the line crossing between their houses and a proposed huge angle pylon on the farmland. It seemed that EirGrid had intentionally decided to punish them for daring to build their new dream home under their wires. There would now be a massive cumulative impact on two houses, a farmyard and a small dairy farming operation both during the construction and the operational phase.

Mr Field expressed concerns about the potential effects of EMF radiation. He said the proposed line was too close to their house. The risk to their health and that of their children was totally unacceptable. There seemed to be no duty of care in this regard.

His wife’s mother had a pacemaker and was given medical advice to keep away from any machinery that had a high electric field. EirGrid had not given her health and safety any consideration, he claimed.

Mr Field said their new house would be totally devalued by the proposed pylon and power lines. Even if they wanted to they could never sell it and move away. The farm would also be devalued. (In an earlier module) EirGrid had said some American study showed that power lines do not devalue property. But what relevance had some study in North America got to do with the small fields and farms in Co. Monaghan? Absolutely none whatsoever in his opinion and it was an insult to people’s intelligence to try to tell them that their houses and farms would not be devalued.

In conclusion Mr Field told the inspectors: “We do not want this inflicted on us and on future generations hopefully yet to be born. We ask you to recommend that this application is rejected or put underground”.

BARRY DUFFY, Dunmaurice, Doohamlet is a home owner.

I represent my family and staff and pupils at All Saints Doohamlet NS. 127 pupils and 15 staff. As a father of three young children I am horrified at the thought of what this project in its present form will bring. First, the health implications, which EirGrid are denying. The list of health risks EirGrid are unleashing upon my family is far too serious for me to accept. Why should this be inflicted upon me and my family?

My home is situated between Ballybay and Doohamlet. We live in a cul-de-sac 1km off the main road. We are nestled among the drumlin hills and beautiful surroundings in the heart of the countryside. I regularly take my children on nature walks around our home on the top of a hill behind our house. We would sit and look across the county and far beyond of which the view is breathtaking.

We are surrounded by wildlife such as buzzards, pheasants, swans to name b?ut a few. The wetlands in front of our house the rivers passes are regularly fished where otters, stoats, foxes and many more. Is it right as humans to damage their habitat?

The visual impact of these steel monstrosities strung across the drumlin hills and far beyond is irreversible to the beautiful land upon which they would stand.It is my belief if this project were to go ahead it would leave a sterile corridor of land vacant of community spirit.

I know that EirGrid would have us believe is in the interest of us all in order to ensure a more reliable electricity supply grid. The truth in my opinion is that the real purpose of this line is to facilitate a handful of multinational corporations to export their wind power out of the state. These same nameless, faceless, greedy capitalists with their deep pockets think they can flout the laws and tramp on people’s civil liberties in order to achieve their goals.

These empress of greed and their cohorts need to be taught a lesson and listen to the communities which this project affects.

The land of this country does not belong to you or I or EirGrid. We are merely keepers of it for our short stay and it is our moral obligation and duty to preserve it and leave it as we found it.

The teachers of Doohamlet NS celebrated the 1916 Rising with the children of the school. They have taught them about the forefathers of the Republic. Men who sacrificed all to give us our freedom. Freedom that is now being eroded by EirGrid. EirGrid is aware of the pupils’ disapproval of this project and yet they try to push ahead with it. EirGrid cold-called to Doohamlet NS unannounced. We here in 2016 need to be more revolutionary in our thinking: why should we do things the easy way because it’s the cheapest way? This is very short-sighted.

We as Irish people are better than that. This state has been very pioneering in the recent past. We were the first in the world to introduce a workplace smoking ban in order to protect people’s health and the rest of the world quickly followed. The levy of plastic bags to protect our environment was another great success. Why not here in this instance? And let the profit-making corporate companies be a little more accountable, for there’s no shortage of zeros on the bottom of their balance sheets at year end. Can we not be the makers of our own destiny and not be dictated to by the wealthy elite of capitalism?

CHARLIE MULLIGAN, Clogher also represented his neighbour EUGENE SHANNON. He had listened to EirGrid at the start of the oral hearing outlining their plan, which he said seemed to stress the importance of minimizing the different impacts their proposal might have. In his own case the proposed access route to a pylon, far from having minimal impact, would in fact have a very substantial impact.

He told the presiding inspector he had been sent a map outlining the proposed access route, without any prior consultation or communication. There were a number of serious issues regarding the proposed access route. The proposed location of the pylon was on an adjacent farm with its own right of way and access from the public road. However it was being proposed that access to the pylon be gained via a completely different and much more damaging route. He said the present access route plan proposed to come through his private laneway and subsequently right through the middle of his farmyard.

Mr Mulligan said there were a number of serious concerns regarding health and safety, damage to property and major inconvenience. Firstly the laneway was in recent years tarred at considerable expense. This laneway is built on bogland and as such did not have the capacity to handle heavy goods traffic of the nature that would be required for the erection of such pylons. When he had the lane tarred he said he stopped milking cows in order to put an end to milk tankers using the route as it was not capable of handling such traffic.

Secondly the proposed route would go through the middle of his farmyard thus restricting him from carrying out day to day activities on the farm. There were also a number of animals housed in this area and the kind of heavy traffic proposed would be a major cause of distress to them. In addition, the damage that would be done to his lane and farm would be irreparable. It seemed obvious that the EirGrid had little or no knowledge of the ground plan of the laneway and farm. If they had then they would be aware that a lot of the land they proposed to go through was heavy soil and had been shored. The effect of heavy goods traffic would be to burst and close shores, leaving the fields permanently wet, rendering the land useless until such time as it would be returned to its existing state.

The impact on people’s health was not at all clear. This very high powered line would give off strong EMF, which could hardly be good for human or animal life, something that was a major concern not just for himself but for individuals and communities living or working anywhere near the lines.

Another concern was the level of noise from the lines, particularly in wet conditions. These levels had not been quantified and in time would most likely turn out to be another major problem. The negative visual impact of this monstrous line of pylons could not be overstated. Could anyone explain how the visual impact of such a line going in and around the drumlins of the mid-Monaghan region could be minimised?

EirGrid talked of minimising the impact of this monstrous development which would simply destroy the tranquil and unspoilt landscape for ever. It would leave farms that it passed through or passed over worthless. There could be no justification that a person’s private property, livelihood and standard of living could be devalued in this way. One pylon would be on his land. At the beginning of this proposed project this pylon was supposed to be situated on a ditch; then as time went on he received a map showing a new position. On this map the location of the planned pylon moved roughly 100m on in the direction of the next tower, away from the ditch and out into the field. Mr Mulligan said he was not consulted about the proposed move.

He asked EirGrid why they had changed the position of the proposed pylon from the centre of a ditch out into the field and up to higher ground. Did they propose to adjust the height of this pylon to take account of the higher ground level, as this was one of the highest pylons in the proposed project. Why leave a distance between the pylon and the ditch, to leave it most difficult to work silage machinery around? Finally, what diameter was the cabling?

Consultation and communication had been severely lacking in EirGrid’s whole approach to this proposal. If it was to be forced onto people as presently outlined, it would have a catstrophic effect on the environment, the area and the people who lived and worked there. Such a proposal simply could not be allowed to move forward with total disregard for the people it would affect and completely against their will.

He suggested to Bord Pleanála to be very careful in approving the proposal. At the stroke of a pen they could leave life a misery for so many people for ever. If the members of An Bord were in any doubt as to why people were objecting, what the inspectors needed to do for one minute was to imagine living their lives in the shadow of this 400kV line. If those were the circumstances, would you like to see this proposal getting planning permission? With 92% of landowners opposed to the method proposed by EirGrid—and time had not weakened their resolve—it was now time for EirGrid to consider the underground option, where they would be working in harmony with the people.

The proposal by EirGrid would be vigorously opposed by him and people like him, he said. If there was to be any future n the proposed project then there needed to be more communication and consultation, as had happened in other parts of the country in order to reach an agreement that was acceptable to all parties concerned.

CLARE AND JOHN REILLY, Drumguillew Lower, have three children aged from 9 to 12. Mrs Reilly told the hearing they built their house on her family’s farm and it incorporated a sun room at the side to ensure they had a good view of the valley between two drumlins. EirGrid proposed to erect a tower right in the middle of this view, 65m from their site boundary. They would always be looking through this monstrosity no matter what window they looked out of. She said it was indescribable how devastating this would be for them and if they had dreamt it was going to happen, they would not have built their house on that site.

The fact that two towers were proposed to be built so close to their house and they did not own the property they would be built on left them in an extremely vulnerable and helpless position, as it impacted on them the most yet they had no rights over the land EirGrid were proposing to build on.

They made objections to the original proposal and in July 2013 received a letter from EirGrid saying their requests had been considered and the tower that affected them the most was going to be located in a field across the road, out of sight of their sun lounge windows and 180m away from the house. In March 2015 a subsequent letter from EirGrid said they were rescinding this ‘concession’ and that they could no longer accommodate the request. Instead of 180m the tower would be 65m from the site boundary. This was a blow to us. The most recent plans in 2015 have this tower in an even lower level of the field than the proposed location prior to 2013, but it is more of an obstruction to the view.

We have serious concerns on how these pylons affect the value of our property. How can anyone say that a towering steel pylon 65m from your house would not influence someone’s decision to buy the house or how much they are prepared to pay for it? I know EirGrid have issued statements to say property values are not affected. But please do not insult our intelligence by thinking we would believe this.

We also have personal serious concerns on the health implications of these pylons, and in particular childhood cancer. EirGrid cannot state categorically that there are no direct links between electric magnetic fields from high voltage power lines and childhood cancer; on the other hand there are studies that show there is a possible link and in particular a study that was done in England and Wales (case control study year 2010 by Kroll ME, Swanson J., Vincent TJ, Draper GJ). In the cited study the magnetic fields of the home address at birth were calculated for each child where they looked at children suffering from cancer and then reviewed where they lived. The study showed a number of these children were living 200m from these high power pylons. Why would we gamble with children’s lives when EirGrid cannot categorically say there are no links. Do we want to take this gamble?

As such we are requesting that EirGrid provide us with the full confirmation in writing that they have completed a full validation and verification study that clearly indicates that 400kV lines do not present any health/cancer implication to residents within 200m of such lines.

Within our home we also have concerns about how these pylons would impact mobile phone signals, broadband or reception of satellite TV signals. There are no certainties around these and how they will be impacted. We would often work from home: how can we be sure these important tools for our work are not going to be affected?

In relation to noise and in particular wind gusting between power lines causing major whirring noise, we will always have this in the background. What is now a quiet locality will soon be a constant drone of whistling noise.

Please be assured we are not against commercial progress and would not do anything to stand in its way, especially when alternative solutions are available i.e. the underground cables.

As such we appeal to you to consider some environmentally friendly alternative to this that blends into the countryside instead of railroading a string of monstrous steel towers through our beautiful natural countryside that we are all so proud of, and why Ireland has got the name for a natural safe environment for crops/grass/animals etc.