INTERCONNECTOR DAY28

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT

This section involved landowners and groups from Co. Monaghan. Part of it focused on the small townland of Cornasassonagh, which has twenty houses and is one of the most populated townlands in South Monaghan.

MARY MARRON, Corbane, spoke on behalf of her husband Philip and their two children. They owned farmland in Ummerafree and Cornasassonagh. Their extended family had lived and farmed in these townlands for generations and were horrified at the proposed development.

She said the construction of the proposed 400kV overhead power line would have a serious detrimental effect on the Monaghan countryside from a farming aspect. Owing to the drumlin landscape, field sizes tended to be small. By placing pylons in a field or along a hedgerow, it would have an enormous impact on the usable space relative to the size of the field. Trees and hedgerows contributed significantly to biodiversity and landscape character in County Monaghan.

From the family home, they could see as far as Derrylin, Co Fermanagh on a clear day and the wind turbines in Latton were clearly visible all year round. The visual impact of the proposed pylons would be immense. She told the inspectors she would be able to see at least six pylons from the front of her house and ten to twelve pylons from their stables.

Their land at Ummerafree consisted of four small fields, totalling 12 acres in size, representing one-third of their total farmland. They also rented approximately 20 acres on the opposite side of the road, where it was proposed that pylon no. 181 would be erected.

EirGrid proposed to enter their land through what they referred to as an existing track. It was in fact a rough path leading from the entrance gate across the river. The gateway into this “track” was 4m wide and wholly unsuitable for large machinery, she said. The lower sections of the fields were wet and marshy and not suitable for driving across for the majority of the year. EirGrid had not advised them what time of year they intended to complete the works. If it was to be during Spring/Summer, this would have an impact on slurry/fertiliser spreading and grazing. If they intended to complete the works during Autumn/Winter, the ground would be too wet to drive on and would be churned up. Our land would be irreversibly devalued by the development and any future development planned by our children would be restricted.

EirGrid proposed to erect the pylon on one of the steepest parts of the land and extensive excavation would be needed. With this excavation came the issue of the slippage of the remaining soil on the upper section of the hill and access to and from this site. To the best of her knowledge, EirGrid had not stated how they proposed to excavate the volume of soil necessary, whether they intended to dispose it or store it on site. The disposal and removal of spoil materials must be accounted for and not left to others to address, she said.

EirGrid mentioned that the land would be reinstated to its original condition once the development was completed. She wondered how long this would take. Because of the pylons, they would not be able to carry out normal farming practices such as slurry spreading, owing to the dangers involved. They would not be able to pass safely beneath the wires with tractors as the sag would be too low due to the gradient and the distance from the adjoining pylons. It would be unsafe to carry out drainage works, reseeding, etc in the vicinity of the pylons thus preventing them from carrying out land improvement works and furthering the business potential of the land.

They had two herds of pedigree Charolais cattle and bloodstock which they grazed both on the affected land and the rented land. Charolais cattle and bloodstock by their nature were highly strung and flighty and would be sensitive both to the volume and variety of traffic and people moving through the fields and the associated noise. They could become very aggressive when confronted by the unknown. This could lead to a bull or cow attacking construction personnel with deadly consequences. How will EirGrid mitigate against this?, she asked.

The health of our livestock is paramount, she said. The Department of Agriculture had very strict guidelines on the movement of cattle and the spread of disease and they would be concerned about disease being carried onto their lands from adjoining farms by the machinery. They were also extremely concerned about the issue of insurance.

They were concerned about the health and safety aspects of the development. They had serious concerns about the damage that would be caused to the roads, the safety of the community that used them and the safety of livestock that walked them. The road networks in Co Monaghan especially in the Corduff area were wholly unsuitable for the volume and type of vehicles that would be required if the development went ahead. Many were single lane roads on which two vehicles were incapable of passing unless one pulled into a gateway.

Noise pollution from overhead high voltage lines was of huge concern, particularly in wet weather. Mrs Marron said the noise from the 110kv power line currently running alongside her family home was horrendous during damp weather and it was like having someone welding outside the window.

It seems that once again, EirGrid had submitted a farcical planning application, with no regard to the landowners and local communities of the affected counties. It was beyond belief how this oral hearing had been permitted to proceed, when EirGrid had continuously shown themselves to be incompetent. The fact that they had been permitted to produce maps twice at this stage detailing new access routes was absurd and they had reserved the right to produce more if they deemed it necessary. Today they were actually redoing an access route as the observers looked on. EirGrid had produced a seriously flawed and misleading Environmental Impact Statement and were now being allowed to redo it as they went along, using information provided by the landowners and communities.

“Over the past five years I have as a member of the Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee attended meeting after meeting with EirGrid representatives, where they were always willing to take concerns on board, only to find out afterwards that it was a box- ticking exercise.”

She went on: “I have sat at this oral hearing and indeed the previous one listening to parents crying while putting their private business in the public domain pleading with Bord Pleanála to take their childrens’ medical needs into account when deciding the outcome of this application when EirGrid would not. I have watched changes to landowner maps being discussed and put in the public domain without landowners having received prior notification. I have watched as landowners have asked question after question without ever receiving a straight answer. EirGrid’s experts have hidden behind sub- sections and modules from day one and have been allowed to do so by you, the inspectors. In the event that they are being put under pressure the legal team comes to the rescue and if this is still not enough the questioner is then instructed to move on. There seems to be a rush to get this oral hearing finished. Why?

You the Board and EirGrid are being paid to be here and do your job. Landowners and other observers are here having taken time off work and putting our case forward at our own expense.”

Mary Marron concluded: “Observers have noted the huge complement of staff and legal expertise which EirGrid have at their disposal. A seemingly bottomless pit of money to get this project pushed through, who despite already having failed once seem to have learned nothing. The might of the State against the little man – though as Leicster City FC have proved, sometimes the little man can win.

From day one this project has had no public acceptance. Anything landowners and observers have witnessed in the conduct of this oral hearing has only served to reinforce their determination that this 400kV line will never be built overground through the counties of Monaghan, Cavan and Meath”.

CON CURTIN, agricultural consultant, said there were no effects on the health of livestock from electromagnetic fields. He also explained measures that the designated contarctor would be taking to prevent the spread of animal disease.

NOEL FOX, Tullyglass, said he had never been properly consulted by EirGrid and did not want EirGrid to put two pylons on his land. The construction work would completely disrupt his farm and work. There was only one access to his farm and he needed it at all times. He would not allow EirGrid in.

“This is my home”, he told the inspectors.

PEADAR CLINTON, Bocks Lower, said their forefathers had fought for the land one hundred years ago. Now the company was taking their freedom away, but the people of Monaghan and Cavan would not let EirGrid do so. He pointed out that there was a pond on his land where moorhen were breeding. He was afraid of the adverse effect the line would cause.

Dr PATRICK CRUSHELL, consultant ecologist for EirGrid said ecology impacts and precautionary mitigation regarding wildfowl, including moorhen, had been considered as part of the Environmental Impact Statement. The pond mentioned by Mr Clinton was identified in the habitat maps and report. Dr Crushell said moorhen would be expected to continue to use the pond notwithstanding the construction and operation of the proposed development.

OWEN and HELEN MCCABE with their neighbours PATSY and ANN IRWIN, Cornasassonagh, said the proposed line was going to have a massive visual impact on what was a very scenic area. Mr McCabe said the wires would be 62m from their kitchen table. His wife Helen said three towers would be visible from their house at all times. The nearest pylon would be 156m away from their home and farm.

SEAMUS MARRON, Cornasassonagh, questioned the access route for a guarding area that EirGrid had proposed. The map showed it going through an eight foot high wall at the end of his farmyard. There was also a well close to the guarding area.

ROBERT ARTHUR for EirGrid said they did not intend to remove the wall but would used another viable entrance to the field at that point. JOHN DILLON, a consultant environmental engineer, said they would monitor the water quality at the well and would take samples to ensure it was not affected by the construction work. In a number of similar cases he told landowners EirGrid would ensure that an alternative supply such as a water tanker was supplied and the well would be restored to its original condition, if any damage was caused.

DES MARRON, Cornasassonagh, said he had not been contacted by EirGrid and he had no intention of letting them put up a pylon on his land. Nobody wanted the pylons and they would all do whatever it took to stop them going up. Don’t waste any more money: put the wires underground, he told EirGrid.

PHILIP MALONE, Cornasassonagh, said the power lines would cause complete destruction to his farm and house. He was concerned that vibrations from the machinery used to access the construction site would cause damage to the foundations of an old stone house that he was renovating.

BARRY SHERIDAN, acoustic consultant, said they could monitor the building using sensors to ensure that any vibrations were within the prescribed limits.

PLUNKETT CORRIGAN, Cornasassonagh, said the proposed route of the lines would overlook one of the most scenic areas in Monaghan. There was a big area of wetlands in the area and he expressed concern about the potential effects on wildlife including whooper swans, snipe, badgers and birds. The EirGrid EIS report had not mentioned the wetlands, he claimed.

Dr PATRICK CRUSHELL, consultant ecologist for EirGrid, said the Bocks Lough site was not officially designated. He said the wetlands had been evaluated from the roadside and the development would not have an effect. The flight path of whooper swans did not regularly cross the route of the line here.

ALAN MCMAHON owns land at Corbane. He said he had not received maps from EirGrid for consultation. A lawyer for EirGrid said the first correspondence with Mr McMahon had been in May 2015. When EirGrid were asked to check their records, it was discovered that they had written to a previous title holder in 2013. After further questioning it was discovered that the company had been notified by the Property Registration Authority in October 2014 of a change in ownership. This was a blatant breach of consultation, according to Nigel Hillis of CMAPC.

EDGAR EAKINS, Corduff, posed a series of questions to EirGrid. He said the power lines would affect GPS equipment used by agricultural contractors. He had concerns about his children playing under the lines and the potential effects on health. “I do not want EirGrid coming onto my property. I am prepared to go to jail if this line goes ahead and if I go to jail, then my children will go as well”, he told the inspectors.

AIDAN GEOGHEGAN, EirGrid Project Manager, said overhead lines would not interfere with any GPS system as they were designed to be immune from interference from such lines.

Mr Eakins had further questions about the effect on farming practices and these were put to EirGrid by ALLEN MCADAM. He wanted to know what would happen if farmers were members of the new agri-environment scheme GLAS and needed to reinstate any ground that was damaged during the construction of pylons. Mr McAdam said that farmers in the scheme could be penalized for re-seeding low input and permanent pasture.

JIMMY MARRON and HUGH FINNEGAN, Ummerafree, raised questions about access routes and the devaluation of land which they believed the interconnector would cause. “The lines would go right across my farm and would put me out of business”, Mr Finnegan said.

ROBERT ARTHUR of ESB International said there would be no sterilisation of land outside the footprint of each pylon.

PAUL KEENAN, Sreenty, was concerned about the positioning of pylon 186 which he said would be sticking out like a sore thumb. It was probably the highest along the route and it would be on a par with Corduff mountain. There was a 360 degree panoramic view from the hill, and you could see as far as Dundalk Bay and the Mournes.

Mr Keenan said the project was being built to supply the UK at our expense. Local people should not be sacrificed for someone else’s power needs, in his view. EirGrid had no morals at all, he claimed. He said they were totally opposed to the plan. Under no circumstances would EirGrid be allowed on their land so that they would suffer in future, he concluded to applause from the other objectors present.

Some landowners posed a direct question to EirGrid staff and to the inspectors, asking them how they would like to live in a house beside a pylon and power lines.

JARLATH FITZSIMONS SC for EirGrid said individual opinions were not a determining factor. The process was about the proper planning and sustainable development of the project and submissions received that were relevant to the assessment to be made by the Board. He also said there would be no micro-siting of the proposed pylons. Their position had been identified and would not be subject to any deviation.

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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 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 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 DAY8

This section dealt with construction, including temporary access routes

Following a request by EirGrid’s lawyer Brian Murray SC, the presiding inspector allowed a change in how the modules had operated until then. The County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee had been due to begin Tuesday’s proceedings with comments on the plans for construction of the 299 pylons in the Republic. Robert Arthur, transmission lines manager with ESB International who are acting as consultants for EirGrid, made a presentation in which he gave details of nineteen modifications to temporary access routes for tower sites. These are in addition to six routes which had been identified by an EirGrid representative at the start of the hearing.

MODIFIED ACCESS ROUTES

For all these ‘modified access routes’ he said they would be making use of existing access onto land and no new land holdings would be involved. He said 95 landowners had made submissions by January when they had been asked to identify issues regarding temporary access routes of which there were 584. But no direct contact had been made with any land owner.

In a document produced for the inspectors Mr Arthur described what he said were mapping anomalies that had arisen primarily from discrepancies in the translation of site vantage survey records onto the Environmental Impact statement drawings. In other words, while an access route might have been identified from an existing field gate, the access route from this existing gate to a tower location was incorrectly captured on the EIS mapping.

HEARING A FARCE AND CHARADE: NEPPC

A barrister for the NEPPC Michael O’Donnell BL told the inspectors the oral hearing had turned into a farce. He said the hearing could not proceed any further and called for it to be abandoned. He claimed that a new public notice would now have to be issued about the development and this was the only appropriate manner under the planning act. The responses by Mr Arthur had been entirely inadequate and inappropriate, he said.

Counsel for the NEPPC Esmond Keane SC described some of Mr Arthur’s replies as an insult to the integrity and intelligence of every member of the public. Some replies were ‘rubbish’ and he had not given a meaningful response. Mr Keane said it appeared EirGrid had produced utterly radical changes and was planning to go through to the pylon construction points using access to private homes in a number of cases, despite the company’s own environmental guidelines. He said there were many difficulties with the planning application, including some technical drawings that had been provided for the route design plan and profile. On one of them the scale was shown as a tiny bar at the top of the page. It also left ordinary members of the public guessing where ground level was shown.

This was different he said from the detailed drawings of the proposed towers and conductors produced by ESB International for the corresponding application in Northern Ireland by the EirGrid subsidiary SONI. In Tyrone and Armagh, stone roads were proposed to be constructed on just over half the 102 tower locations.

He also questioned Mr Arthur in detail on a proposal for washing down vehicles to remove mud and organic material from vehicles exiting tower sites. The ESB International representative said it was his understanding that vehicles would be washed down before they entered the temporary work area around the pylons. “That doesn’t make sense”, Mr Keane remarked.

Padraig O’Reilly of the NEPPC said the hearing had developed into a charade second time round and called on the inspectors not to go ahead with it. Unless Bord Pleanála responded in a meaningful way then his group would not be taking any further part.

Mary Marron of CMAPC said nineteen landowners did not know where access roads would be going over their land. They had no faith in any sense of fairness if the oral hearing continued and the Monaghan group fully backed the NEPPC stance.

EirGrid lawyer Brian Murray SC said the hearing should go ahead as only 19 out of 584 access routes were involved and EirGrid could begin notifying the affected landowners during the next week. The second part had been set aside to hear from individual landowners.

Michael O’Donnell BL for the NEPPC claimed this amounted to an acknowledgement by EirGrid that the hearing could not proceed, as it would now be necessary to issue a new public notice so that all affected landowners along with neighbours and members of the public could be informed.

But Jarlath Fitzsimons SC for EirGrid pointed out that development consent was not required for access routes. These had been included in the documentation. They formed part of the project and must be looked at by the Planning Board when they were considering the totality of the application. There was no requirement for a new notification, in EirGrid’s view.

The presiding inspector said she would give a decision on whether the hearing would continue when the proceedings opened on Wednesday.