This section concerned landowners in Co. Meath
DENNIS NIXON, Tankardstown near Navan, runs a bloodstock breeding and training business. He said the interconnector would pose a threat to his business. He said equine farms especially those with high value bloodstock were particularly sensitive to environmental issues. The presence of pylons and substantial overhead lines would run completely contrary to the desired image. The construction of the towers would also cause considerable practical complications.
Mr Nixon said he had concerns about the fertility of his mares if the overhead lines were approved. The lines and pylons would cast shadows and create additional noises on the country roads where the horses were sometimes exercised, putting them and their riders in danger. He also had concerns for his own health and that of his family because of the presence of electro-magnetic fields.
He claimed that property values would be greatly diminished if the application was permitted. Pylons on their land would also have an effect on insurance premiums, he said. He appealed to An Bord Pleanála to reject what he called a poorly conceived and ill thought out project. If it really was needed, then it should be an underground invisible grid that would preserve their resources, heritage, environment, health and his business.
MICHAEL SADLIER, an equine specialist, addressed the hearing on two occasions and has also drawn up a report on equine psychology and behaviour. Regarding operational noise such as gap sparking on the power lines, Mr Sadlier said most animals including horses, with repeated exposure to threatening situations (including sight, smell or sound) would acclimatise. Once they realised there was no threat then they no longer responded.
In their response to submissions in December last year, EirGrid said horses had not been a species of interest to scientists conducting research on electromagnetic fields. However research on a variety of other experimental, farm, and wild animals had not identified adverse effects on any of these diverse species, a conclusion which would be expected to apply to horses as well.
The substantial body of research on both livestock and other animals did not indicate any adverse effects from transmission lines. There was therefore no scientific basis in the research literature to conclude that the presence of EMF from transmission lines would create conditions that would impair the health of horses or would precipitate abnormal behaviour. While under the line under some conditions people as well as horses might be able to detect the presence of the electric field from the overhead conductors. Such sensations were subtle, not harmful, and easily habituated to, according to the EirGrid response.
SHARON GLYNNE and DESMOND KENNY of Dowdstown House near Navan expressed concern about the effect of the line that would come within 300m of their free range egg production unit. They also pointed out that one of the proposed access routes for constructing a pylon did not go along a laneway but was through a paddock where the hens were able to graze.
Dowdstown House is approximately 520m from a proposed pylon. It is described in the NIAH Garden Survey as having its main features unrecognisable and peripheral features visible. The aspect of the house is towards the east. The rear of the house faces towards agricultural buildings, both 19th century and modern.
DECLAN MOORE, EirGrid archaeology consultant, said there would not be a significant impact on the setting of Dowdstown House. The impact was evaluated as slight. A souterrain noted in the National Monuments Record was located 560m to the east of a second pylon. It was now closed up but a shallow depression marked the site. Mr Moore said there would be no direct physical impact and the impact on the setting of this site would not be significant.
CON CURTIN, agronomist for EirGrid, said the development would have a slight impact overall on the farm. It would be proposed that the contractor liaised with the landowner to ensure that machinery used in construction did not come into contact with the poultry unit.
JARLATH FITZSIMONS SC for EirGrid placed on record for the Board two further changes to proposed access routes that had been made following observations by landowners from Monaghan at the hearing. SHANE BRENNAN, SONI/EirGrid Project Manager, made a detailed presentation to the inspectors about the extent of landowner engagement since 2011. He said a series of seven letters had been sent to all landowners by certified post but despite their extensive efforts, many had chosen not to communicate with them.