MCMAHON BURIAL VAULTS INNISKEEN

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Surviving walls of the McMahon burial vaults, Inniskeen old graveyard Pic. Mary Kerley/Monaghan Heritage

CONSERVATION PLAN FOR MCMAHON VAULTS INNISKEEN

(Thanks to Joe Callan for the information) Northern Standard Thursday 8th December

Inniskeen Heritage was reformed at a meeting in the Community Centre on Monday last. Great interest has been generated in heritage recently by the publication of Matt Kearney’s book on the McMahon burial vaults in the old graveyard. A heritage plan for the graveyard is being drawn up and the group intends to seek LEADER funding for the conservation of the vaults and the surveying and promotion of the whole village with respect to its early Christian heritage.

The group acknowledges the advice and assistance of the County Heritage Officer, Shirley Clerkin and of Larry McDermott, a member of the original group who now sits on Monaghan Heritage Forum.

At the initial meeting the following officers were elected: Chairperson: Brian Dooley; Vice Chairperson: Tom Lennon; Secretary: Joe Callan; Treasurer: Micheal Magee; Assistant Treasurer: Sean Rafferty and Public Relations Officer: Seamus Mulligan.

It is hoped to stimulate a wider interest locally in the history of the parish. The group plans to hold a public consultation meeting in the near future. You can contact them via email at: inniskeenheritagegroup@gmail.com or speak to any of the committee members with suggestions or contributions.

Monaghan County Council Heritage Office has sought to commission three conservation management plans and a programme of community engagement for a total of four Early Christian era sites. This action comes under the County Monaghan Heritage Plan 2012-2017. The project is funded by Monaghan County Council and the Heritage Council.

The four sites are:

  1. Inniskeen Glebe: Inniskeen round tower and graveyard (McMahon Vaults).
  2. Clones, Crossmoyle, Clones round tower and graveyard.
  3. Killahear, Corlat, Killahear graveyard (Lough Egish).
  4. Errigal Truagh medieval church.

The sites have a wide range of significance values including archaeological, historical, cultural, religious, social, natural and economic. They are geographically spread, and as a result involve a number of parishes and their associated communities. In all cases local groups exist that are keen to manage and understand these sites more effectively.

Historically, the sites are linked during the early Christian period, as well as thematically using contemporary heritage meanings. Inniskeen and Clones have round towers. Errigal Truagh and Killahear have church ruins. The sites have links to four Irish saints, St Daig (Inniskeen), St Tighernach (Clones), St Ceara (Killahear) and St Maudain (Errigal Truagh).

It’s proposed that three conservation plans in an appropriate and agreed format for the Early Christian sites at Clones, Inniskeen and Killahear should be developed with the communities. A series of evening and/or weekend workshops with the local communities who manage the sites would be held to develop an understanding of early Christian Ireland, monasticism and an appreciation of the wide range of heritage values associated with each place.

According to the County Council, the groups including Inniskeen are very enthusiastic about the project. They intend to help channel that enthusiasm into positive outcomes for the sites. It is intended that the groups will work together on common themes and will focus separately on the site in their own community.

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MONAGHAN MOURNS NICE DEATHS

MONAGHAN EXPRESSES SYMPATHY WITH FRANCE IN AFTERMATH OF NICE CARNAGE

President Hollande on Official Visit to Ireland

Michael Fisher  NORTHERN STANDARD  Thursday 21st July 2016

As County Monaghan continued to express condolences with the people of France, President François Hollande arrived in Dublin this morning on an official visit to Ireland. It’s just a week since an attack in Nice claimed by “Islamic State” killed 84 people and injured 200 others during Bastille Day celebrations. A lorry driver deliberately ploughed into the large crowd gathered on the promenade and drove for nearly 2km before being shot dead by police.

The incident came eight months after a series of IS attacks in Paris left 130 dead. On both occasions, the sympathy of Monaghan people has been passed on to the French state.

BOOKS OF CONDOLENCES

Monaghan County Council Cathaoirleach PJ O’Hanlon opened a book of condolences on Monday at the civic offices in Carrickmacross. The Council’s Chief Executive Eamonn O’Sullivan then signed. Books were also made available in Monaghan town (at the Council offices), in Ballybay, Clones and Castleblayney. Both Council representatives had attended Bastille Day celebrations in Dublin at the Ailesbury Road residence of the French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault.

Referring to the attack in Nice, Councillor O’Hanlon said it was very, very hard to comprehend and understand. But it was very important that as a nation we condemned “this horrendous terrorist attack” on what we all represent as Europeans, which is freedom of speech and democracy. We must show sincere and genuine sympathy to the people of France, he added.

 BASTILLE DAY CELEBRATIONS IN DUBLIN

The Monaghan delegation at the Bastille Day celebrations included Eugene O’Gorman of the Carhaix/Carrickmacross twinning committee. The Chief Executive of Lacpatrick Co-op Gabriel D’Arcy represented business interests.

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French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault with Canon Robert Marsden in February 2016 after he received the Légion d’Honneur award  Pic. Michael Fisher

Two men with Monaghan connections had been presented in the past year with France’s main honour, the Légion d’Honneur, for their roles in the British Army in World War Two, helping to liberate France. They were the retired Church of Ireland (Clogher diocese) rector, Canon Robert Marsden from Dublin and the late Sir John (Jack) Leslie of Glaslough. Canon Marsden attended the French National Day celebrations along with Mark Leslie, nephew of Sir Jack. Irish Times columnist Frank McNally from Carrickmacross was also among the invitees.

FRENCH AMBASSADOR ON LINKS WITH IRELAND

The French Ambassador told guests that Ireland must retain its strong trade relationship with France in the wake of the UK vote to leave the European Union. He said the period ahead would be full of challenges and opportunities and also of threats.

“We have learned recently, with great sadness, that a member of the EU will intend to leave this community and this will create challenges. We are all sad because of it,” he said.

“At the same time, we need to manage this tradition in the best way possible, taking into account the interest of our people and we must also pay attention to the voices that are expressing concerns everywhere in Europe, ” he added.

Monsieur Thébault said: “I think it is very important that France and Ireland must contribute actively to the redefinition of what a sensible, pragmatic but meaningful Europe should be.” The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a referendum three weeks ago.

The Ambassador said President Hollande’s visit to Ireland would be a significant moment. “This visit could not happen at a better moment because the president of France can pay tribute to Ireland and recognise the Irish people and our shared history”, he said.

Mr Thébault also paid tribute to the Irish soccer fans’ good behaviour while at the Euro 2016 tournament in France. “The green army which peacefully invaded France was fantastic and continued for several weeks”, he said.

VISIT BY PRESIDENT HOLLANDE

President Hollande is here to discuss the impact of Brexit on the island. He will meet President Higgins and will also hold discussions with the Taoiseach. However he will no longer be unveiling a new memorial in Glasnevin dedicated to the Irish who died while fighting in France during his visit. The memorial is a gift by the French government to Ireland. The unveiling has been postponed until a later date.

Speaking last month following the outcome of the British referendum, President Hollande described the British people’s choice to leave the European Union as painful, but one which must be respected and all the consequences fully accepted. He said: “The UK will no longer be a member of the European Union. The procedures set forth in the treaties will be implemented quickly – that is the rule and the consequence. France, for both its own sake and that of Great Britain, will continue to cooperate with this great ally, particularly on defence issues.”

He said this posed a grave test for Europe, which would now have to show solidity and strength by responding as necessary to control the economic and financial risks of the UK’s exit. “Measures are already underway and I am confident they will be effective,” the French President said. To move forward, Europe must also reassert its values of freedom, tolerance and peace, and be a sovereign power taking its own destiny in hand and defending its model. “There is a huge danger in the face of extremism and populism. It always takes less time to undo than to do, to destroy than to build. France – a founding country of Europe – will not accept that,” President Hollande asserted.

France would therefore be leading efforts to ensure Europe focused on the key issues:

  • Security and defence of the European continent, to protect its borders and keep the peace amid the threats its faces;
  • Investment in growth and jobs, to implement industrial policies in terms of new technologies and energy transition;
  • Tax and social harmonisation to shore up European economies with rules and safeguards;
  • Strengthening of the eurozone and its democratic governance.

It is President Hollande’s belief that “Europe […] must bring projects to the table rather than get bogged down in red tape. It must be understood and overseen by its citizens. Where it is expected to make decisions, these must be made swiftly, while decisions that are solely for the Member States to make must be left up to them, once and for all”.

“Europe is more than just a great market: it is a great ideal. This has too often been forgotten and it is surely this fact that has made it lose its way. Europe needs to remain a source of hope for young people, as it is their horizon. Today, history is on our doorstep,” declared François Hollande. “This is a historical turning point and we therefore need to be equal to the situation we are facing.”

 

INTERCONNECTOR DAY16

This section dealt with material assets: general and traffic

Acting senior engineer with Monaghan County Council John McKernan said EirGrid’s response to submissions last year was too vague on a number of traffic issues. It did not provide any detail in relation to the transport of excess soil from the foundations of the proposed towers to the waste disposal sites. This was particularly in respect of egress from the access routes onto the public road, and the provision of visibility splays at the point of emergence onto the public road.

The response provided merely repeated what had been stated in the original application relating to the use of dumper trucks to deliver concrete to the foundations. He said the company’s response did not provide any detail regarding the off-loading of the concrete from the delivery truck at the public road, and the loading of the dumpers being used to deliver the concrete down the access lanes to the site of the towers.

Mr McKernan said no detail was given regarding the off-loading of the steel framework from the delivery truck at the public road and the loading of the vehicles being used to deliver the steel framework to the sites. EirGrid had still not addressed the key issues regarding the physical capacity of a number of the access routes to accommodate the traffic movements between the public road and the tower sites. He said no realistic measures had been provided to address the issues raised regarding any accommodation works and relating to the control of lands in order to carry out such works.

On the question of how much surplus soil and rock would be generated by excavation at the tower sites and taken away to a licensed waste management site, the ‘worst case scenario’ envisaged by EirGrid was said to be approximately 10,500 cubic metres. Mr McKernan said reasonable figures were required from the company in respect of waste soil generated at each tower location, in order to ascertain the volume of traffic movements generated on the affected public roads.

Regarding the frequency of construction traffic on narrow roads in Monaghan, Mr McKernan said concerns remained that a number of towers would be constructed at the same time in the same area, leading to a significant amount of traffic using the public road. He asked for specific details of the phasing of the construction work in order to allay the Council’s concerns.

Some of the haul routes were quite convoluted. No proposals had been put forward to prevent contractors using public roads that would provide more direct routes for access to towers. EirGrid had proposed to carry out a pre- and post-construction video survey of the road pavements and verges on the haul routes. But this was insufficient in his opinion and a full mechanical machine survey of the public roads involved should be made at least three months in advance of works commencing.

Finally, the use of flag men would not resolve difficulties regarding delivery trucks blocking the public road while parked for off-loading. Nor would it resolve conflicts between large delivery trucks meeting day-to-day traffic traversing the road.

Along with senior planner Toirleach Gourley Mr McKernan continued to interrogate EirGrid about when Monaghan County Council would be provided with specific foundation details for each of the 134 proposed towers in the county and part of Cavan near Kingscourt. EirGrid lawyer Jarlath Fitzsimons SC insisted the relevant information had already been provided in the application and response to submissions. Statements that there was inadequate or no information were without substance, he said. He told the presiding inspector it was not a function of Monaghan County Council to reject the information.

We are looking at new and significant information, Mr Gourley stated. It differed from what had been published in the environmental impact statement. He said he had identified gaps in the EirGrid information. As a result the Council could not examine the impact of construction vehicle movements such as concrete lorries on local roads. The latest information they received conflicted with the information presented on behalf of EirGrid yesterday.

Asked by the inspector about information on traffic movements and towers, consultant engineer Tom Cannon said there had been a robust traffic assessment and the figures provided were an over-estimation of what would be required. He said there would be excavated material during the construction of the proposed development, specifically in relation to the tower foundations. Typically 34 m3 of excess soil would be excavated at each intermediate tower location with approximately 230 m3 of excess soil excavated from angle towers. In the case of three angle 90 degree angle towers the excavations would be deeper, requiring more concrete to be laid and more soil to be removed. It was stated that 96 of the 104 intermediate towers would not require piling. A worst case scenario would be that all excavated material amounting to 10,500m3 for all the towers in Monaghan would be sent off-site to a licenced waste recovery facility. He indicated that there were a number of potential storage sites in Monaghan, including the proposed temporary yard outside Carrickmacross.

But senior planner Toirleach Gourley pointed out that because the licence was coming to an end at one site and another two had been filled with soil from the new factory development on the Monaghan by-pass, the possibilities for disposal were restricted. His estimate was that there was approximately 17,000 m3 of soil to be disposed off as there was an extra 7000 cubic metres intended for the storage yard over and above what was in the environmental assessment.

Jarlath Fitzsimons SC said EirGrid had used information that was publicly available at the time of the planning application in June last year. It was not possible to use a crystal ball to predict the possible landfill sites when the line came to be constructed. Mr Cannon, he said, had indicated some of the sites that might be available. There was a wide sweep of potential disposal areas provided. Different areas would be required at different times. Mr Gourley, he said, seemed to be arguing for perfection in the environmental impact statement.

Robert Arthur of ESB International repeated the various stages of construction that would be required for the towers and gave details of the timescale involved. John McKernan asked for details of concrete lorries that would be off-loading material on public roads to dumper trucks that would bring the concrete up to the site towers. Some of the roads were very narrow and one proposed point for off-loading was at a crossroads and another at a T-junction. He was informed there were three angle towers where extra deliveries of concrete would be required for the deeper foundation.

In response to further questioning, the EirGrid consultant Tom Cannon advised that where the same access route was being used for two or more towers, the pylons would be constructed one at a time in order to reduce the level of traffic on the public road. He outlined other mitigation measure that would be taken including the use of flagmen at a small number of locations to ensure that traffic was not blocked. He also said there would be one proposed road closure during construction of two towers in the Monaghan area.

Mr McKernan asked EirGrid to put in place a mechanical survey of the state of the local roads that would be used three months before the development started. Mr Cannon advised him that the company intended to do a video of the routes involved both before and after construction, but Mr McKernan said this would not be a suitable way of collecting and assessing the relevant information.

BALLOON FLIGHTS

Malcolm White of Irish Balloon Flights said his company had been providing passenger flights from its base in Co. Meath for sixteen years. He told the hearing about how their business could be affected if the proposed high voltage power line was permitted. Their main concern was for the safety of passengers and crew.

A consultant for EirGrid Damien Grehan said ballooning was taking place in a landscape that included numerous overhead cables including a 400kV line. Aeronautical engineer Rodney Fewings said the ultimate responsibility for flight regulation rested with the Irish Aviation Authority and pilots were allowed to fly over power lines.

The presiding inspector asked Mr Fewings about the potential of the overhead lines to impact on the Medevac helicopter operations in Ireland, as this had been raised in a number of submissions in response to the planning application. He said he saw no reason why it should be a problem because of the modern navigation equipment on board new helicopters.

This section dealt with the transboundary and cumulative impact

As members of the County Monaghan Anti Pylon Committee and NEPPC had decided a fortnight ago they would withdraw from the proceedings over EirGrid’s conduct at the hearing, it was left to the presiding inspector to ask EirGrid any relevant questions in this section. EirGrid said a comprehensive evaluation of the potential effects on County Armagh at the point where the proposed line crossed the border at Lemgare in County Monaghan had been set out in the environmental impact statement. These ranged from none to moderate.

EirGrid subsidiary SONI had produced its own impact assessment for the effects in the Republic of the development in Northern Ireland as the line extends to Turleenan near Moy in Co. Tyrone. Both companies together had produced a separate consolidated environmental statement on the entirety of the project.

BIRD STUDIES

EirGrid consultant ecolgist Daireann McDonnell who had presented details of the most recent wintering bird surveys for 2014/15 to the inquiry two days previously in response to a request from the National Parks and Wildlife Service then read a statement into the record. He confirmed that the studies along the proposed line had not identified any new sensitive locations or mitigation requirements for whooper swans. Mr McDonnell recommended that additional flight diverters should be installed on a section of the lines between thirteen towers near the River Blackwater in County Meath.

EIRGRID CLARIFICATION ON LANDS ACCESSED

The hearing was told EirGrid and its consultants had been able to gain access to only 25% of the land along the route required for the towers, because they did not have permission from every landowner. At the conclusion of the module EirGrid lawyer Jarlath Fitzsimons SC outlined the reasons why the company had decided not to use its statutory powers to gain access in order to carry out environmental appraisals.

He said EirGrid respected the rights of each landowner in relation to their own lands, and always sought to achieve access through liaison with landowners and local communities to the greatest extent possible. EirGrid and its team had conducted site appraisals at a sizeable number of locations which, given the high degree of uniformity of land type and land use in both study areas, assisted in the confirmation of the conclusions of the baseline environmental appraisals conducted without the benefit of site surveys, in many instances.

There was no necessity for EirGrid to exercise statutory powers inherited from the ESB in relation to conducting surveys of lands for the proposed interconnector because they were able to use a suite of alternative assessment methods. The senior counsel told the inspectors that EirGrid and its consultants were confident the appraisal methodologies employed where physical access to sites was not granted had not had a material impact on the quantity or quality or adequacy of the information included in both the Environmental Impact Statement and Natura Impact Statement submitted to the Planning Board as part of the application.

EirGrid remained of the view that the exercise of its statutory powers to gain access to lands compulsorily would have not resulted in additional information being garnered which would have altered the environmental appraisal in any material way, he concluded.

STAGE TWO NEXT WEEK

There is a chance today (Thursday) for interested groups or individuals to comment on part one of the proceedings, which began five weeks ago. On Monday the hearing moves into part two, when elected representatives, concerned residents groups from Co. Meath and then individual landowners will make oral submissions on specific issues. Dates for the hearing have been set until mid-May.

HIGH COURT CASE

At the High Court in Dublin last week Mr Justice Humphreys reserved a decision on a legal case by the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign. They are seeking permission for a judicial review of the validity of the planning application by EirGrid. The judge sad he hoped to give a decision before May 12th.

 

INTERCONNECTOR DAY15

This section dealt with geology, hydrogeology, soils and water

CRITICISM OF GEOLOGY REPORT

Colin Andrew, an experienced geologist from Ardbraccan Co. Meath who is also landowner along the proposed route for the power lines and a supporter of the North East Pylon Pressure Campaign made a scathing critique of the environmental impact assessment submitted by EirGrid during an hour-long submission. He concluded that because the EirGrid planning application failed to address and include various important details it was in his professional opinion fatally flawed and inadequate. It was materially deficient, wrong, and thus incomplete and clearly unfit for purpose.

He claimed the geology report showed a poor standard of reporting with confused and inaccurate use of geological terminologies. There was a total absence of site investigation studies to appropriate standards, with no evidence of sites inspected and a failure to conduct hydrological flood risk assessments.

Dr Andrew claimed there was a failure by EirGrid to assess the potential for contaminated ground and unstable or reactive bedrock issues. He told the presiding inspector there was a lack of knowledge of the depth to bedrock and of the materials below the surface they proposed to excavate. The assessment in his view showed a lack of knowledge of the depths of excavations that would be acceptable for load-bearing and thus a lack of knowledge of the quantities of material to be transported from or to sites, with the attendant impact on the numbers of HGV movements.

There was, he said, a failure to address issues associated with mining operations such as blast vibration. Another failure was to assess the impact of overhead power lines on geophysical mineral exploration methods, along with an absence of any geological or hydrological assessment of access tracks.

Although these failings had been identified for EirGrid during their previous application six years ago, Dr Andrew said the company had failed to correct the gross inadequacies of the impact assessment.

He claimed the suitability of individual leg block foundations for the proposed 299 pylons (each pylon has four) had not been assessed in terms of the individual sites along the line. Instead, EirGrid had operated a “one design fits all” policy.

MONAGHAN CO. COUNCIL VIEW

Monaghan County Council senior planner Toirleach Gourley also called on Eirgrid to provide a site specific plan for each of the proposed towers, rather than outlining general measures. His colleague consultative chemist John Paul McEntee said under the EU water framework directive a site specific plan was required showing the location of all drainage outfall and the location of any temporary waste water treatment facilities.

Mr Gourley continued to press EirGrid on its plans for the removal of waste material from individual tower sites and queried details shown in a table included with a diagram of the amount of concrete to be used for the construction of the various types of tower foundations.

Robert Arthur of ESB International explained that the construction of the base of each pylon with four legs and the latticed steel tower was ‘a relatively modest development’. He said the company did not do site specific designs but had forty years of experience in designing such infrastructure throughout Ireland.

EirGrid admitted that during the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement there were a number of constraints in terms of getting access to sites. Only 25% of the pylon sites had been surveyed. Notwithstanding the constraints, a robust evaluation of the likely significant effects of all aspects of the proposed development, both in respect of the line and the towers, had been undertaken for the purpose of preparing the environmental impact statement.

The working area for construction of a 400 kV tower would extend to 30 x 30m all around the footprint of the base of the tower, with the exception of Towers 166 and 168 close to Lough Morne, which had larger working areas proposed to account for additional excavations required to stabilise ground adjacent to the foundation locations. The minimum width of these working areas is proposed to be 41m at Tower 168 and 34m at Tower 166.

Each of the four corners of the lower part of the tower legs would be separately anchored below ground in a block of concrete. Approximately 10,500m3 of material would be excavated as part of the proposed development in the Monaghan/Cavan area, a figure that was subsequently challenged by the planner from Monaghan County Council.

EirGrid set out how impacts on the existing ground conditions would be restricted to the tower locations, temporary access routes, guarding locations and stringing locations. The magnitude of the impacts at the tower locations was considered to be low. Temporary access tracks consisting of aluminium road panels or rubber matting would be required at approximately nineteen tower locations. It was not proposed to use stone roads or timber sleepers as part of the proposed development.

A report by consultant hydrogeologist John Dillon acknowledged that the construction phase of the proposed development would impact on geological conditions through the use of the temporary access routes and excavations required for the tower bases. The company’s environmental statement said during construction the potential impacts to the underlying soil and geology from the proposed works could derive from accidental spillages of fuels, which could impact the soil, bedrock and groundwater quality, if allowed to infiltrate to ground.

EirGrid said the tower locations had been selected to avoid known areas of lacustrine deposits, intact peat and cutover peat where possible. Intact peat was not identified at any tower location along the line route including Cashel Bog. The predicted impact on the soils and geology was considered to be long term and negligible, according to the company. Mr Dillon said there would be monitoring of sites after the pylons had been constructed.

Figures produced by EirGrid continued to be queried by Toirleach Gourley of Monaghan County Council. When he suggested that the amount of soil to be removed from sites could be as high as 35,000 m3 based on his calculations, he was informed by Robert Arthur of ESB International that was absolutely not the case and such an amount was “totally out of the realms of possibility.”

 

 

 

 

 

INTERCONNECTOR DAY13

Lemgare_Mass_Rock.jpg

Lemgare Mass Rock  Pic: Blackquarterfox (own work)                                                                                                         (Creative Commons Licence CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

 

This section dealt with cultural heritage

Shirley Clerkin, heritage officer, represented Monaghan County Council along with senior planner Toirleach Gourley. At the start of the proceedings the presiding inspector was asked to allow a consultant archaeologist for EirGrid Declan Moore to add new information regarding four monuments, one of them in Co. Monaghan and the others in Meath, to the environmental impact statement.

LEMGARE MASS ROCK

Mr Moore explained that a new cultural heritage monument had been added to the archaeological survey database since completion of the evaluation of the North/South interconnector. The site was uploaded to the National Monuments Service historic environment viewer on 25th January 2016 by Michael Moore (archaeologist with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht).

Lemgare Mass Rock is located to the east of a prominent rock outcrop known as the Lemgare rocks in the townland of Lemgare, Co. Monaghan (beside the border with Co. Armagh). The Mass Rock is approximately 30m to the east of one of the proposed pylons and approximately 25m from the overhead power line on an elevated site overgrown with gorse and furze (separate field). The site is located just down from the summit of Lemgare Rocks.

A west-facing rock face is the traditional location of a venue where Mass was celebrated in Penal times and possibly as early as the mid-1700s, according to a survey carried out by Rev. Pádraig Ó Gallachair in 1957 on behalf of the Diocese of Clogher. The information regarding the exact location of the Mass rock was scant; a ‘Report on the state of Popery of 1731’ identifies the site as being in the Parish of Clontibret and the entry reads ‘one Altar made of earth & stones uncovered’. The precise location was unknown at the time of the compilation of the EIS.

Declan Moore’s evaluation is that there will be no direct physical impact. The sensitivity of the site to impacts on setting was found to be high. The magnitude of the impact on the site was found to be substantial. The overall significance on the impact of the proposed interconnector on the setting of the site was considered to be significant.

TELTOWN

According to the EirGrid consultant, three recorded monuments in County Meath were added to the archaeological survey database since he completed his evaluation of the North-South interconnector at Teltown Church, the importance of which was to be raised later in the proceedings. A cross, a cross-inscribed stone and rock art (located in the graveyard) were uploaded in January. Despite these additions the overall significance of the impact on the setting of Teltown Church remained ‘moderate negative’, as noted in the environmental impact statement.

MONAGHAN HERITAGE

In a submission about the impact of the EirGrid plans, Monaghan County Council heritage officer Shirley Clerkin said there were 15 archaeological sites containing 34 megalithic tombs that would be permanently impacted. Two demesnes at Tully House and Shantonagh would be affected and the company’s response had been insufficient. One of the proposed access routes for construction of two towers passed beside a protected circular fort at Latnakelly. There was a high risk that the perimeter wall would be damaged by increased heavy traffic on the laneway. The EirGrid archaeologist said in this location the contractor would be made aware of the monument to ensure no damage occurred and would be required to use lighter machinery to reduce vibrations from construction traffic.

The heritage officer pointed out that on the proposed route, there was a particular cluster of megalithic tombs in the area from Cornamucklagh South going northwards to Lennan. There might be added potential for archaeological evidence of neolithic settlement or other monuments in this area. She stressed that it would be important a photographic analysis of the visual impact was provided before the development went ahead. EirGrid said the portal tomb at Lennan (situated prominently on a drumlin) was about 250m away from the route of the power lines in an area not accessible by the general public. The overall impact of the development on the setting remained the same as stated in the environmental assessment, namely significant.

Monaghan County Council has been leading a regional Black Pig’s Dyke project since 2014. This Bronze Age or Iron Age fortification was a recorded monument on the national register. There were obvious surface remains along some of its length in County Monaghan, at the east, south of Lough Muckno and to the west of the county below Scotshouse. The extensive lines of ditches which spread into neighbouring counties are considered to be amongst the oldest, largest and most celebrated land boundaries in prehistoric Europe.

The EirGrid report by consultant archaeologist Declan Moore said the site was believed to have been a single defensive earthwork running from Sligo to Louth and presently was untraceable for most of its length. Parts of the earthwork had been identified in County Cavan just east of Bellananagh and in County Monaghan. The company said it was possible that the proposed line route might pass over the subsurface remains of this earthwork.

Mr Moore was asked by the presiding inspector to outline measures that would be taken to protect historic monuments that were near proposed towers and access routes. He explained what would be done in specific cases such as at Latnakelly fort and Corrinenty.

MEATH HERITAGE

A leading Irish archaeologist from Co. Meath who excavated the passage tomb at Knowth informed the hearing that it would be a travesty to put power lines near the equally historic Bronze Age site at Teltown (Tealtainn). The assessment of Professor George Eogan from Nobber was read into the record by architect John Clancy from Batterstown.

Professor Eogan said the Tealtainn/Donaghpatrick heritage complex comprised one of the treasures of early Ireland and was rich in archaeology and history. The unspoilt rural landscape reflected that important heritage which he said must be preserved for present and future generations.

Professor Eogan continued: “I have consulted the plans for this proposed project and the prospect of eight massive pylons traversing this beautiful landscape is unthinkable. Not only would the pylons be a massive visual intrusion, but the ground works involved in their construction and erection will have a very detrimental effect on the hitherto undisturbed archaeological deposits.”

“The proposed erection of pylons with their massive visual and destructive intrusion on this unspoilt landscape would be a travesty for which no possible justification can be made. I sincerely hope that permission will not be granted for it to proceed”, Professor Eogan stated.

According to his assessment, Tealtainn is particularly important as it was where significant ecclesiastical and secular events took place in the past. Going right back to the Bronze Age examples of rock art of the period have been discovered in the ancient graveyard there, which also contained a font and sundial of the Early Christian period. In late prehistoric and early historic times the famous Tealtainn games were held annually, presided over by the High King. Professor Eogan said it was vital that the area be left undisturbed so as to allow for further investigation.

Donaghpatrick was another important element of the complex. The modern church incorporated the remains of  a 14th- 15th century tower house. St Patrick established a church there, hence the name. Across the road from the church were very impressive remains of a triple-banked ring fort, Rath Aithir.

Professor Eogan’s letter to the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society was quoted by the Society’s Past President John Clancy from Batterstown when he made a submission to the Bord Pleanála oral hearing, now in its fifth week. Meanwhile in Dublin, a High Court challenge by the North East Pylon Pressure Group continued last Thursday and was again adjourned.

Mr Clancy, an architect, told the presiding inspector that the proposed interconnector route a few kilometres from the Hill of Tara and near other important archaeological sites would have a serious cost to our landscape and heritage and no benefit for electricity consumers. He explained that he lived 180m from a route of pylons near the ESB sub-station at Woodland, where the proposed 400kV interconnector will link into the transmission system. The pastoral landscape had been changed forever when the towers carrying six cables for a 220kV line were erected, he said.

When future generations wrote the history of how they had treated Meath’s heritage, Mr Clancy wondered if the insertion of pylons and transmission lines would be seen as yet another mistake similar to the M3 motorway as the infrastructure passed through the Teltown landscape and near the archaeological complexes of Brittas, Cruicetown, Rahood and Raffin. Although it was a major piece of important infrastructure, there was no proper provision for it in the Meath County Development Plan 2013-19. The route through Meath should therefore be excluded when Bord Pleanála made its determination, he told the presiding inspector.

Mr Clancy referred to photomontages provided by EirGrid showing what pylons would look like in key areas such as the Hill of Tara, Brittas and Bective Abbey. He said they were insufficient to arrive at a clear view of the true visual impact and further studies were required, as had happened with the N2 Slane Bypass inquiry. Consultant architect for EirGrid Joerg Schulze said all photomontages had been produced to the current best practice guidelines.

Meath County Council Heritage Officer Loreto Guinan said the Hill of Tara contained 150 recorded monuments and was one of the most culturally significant places in Ireland. It was a candidate for designation as a UNESCO world heritage site. The proposed interconnector development posed key questions as to whether it was likely to comproise the nomination made in 2010. She told the presiding inspector an independent world heritage expert should be asked to make an impact assessment, based on international standards and benchmarks.

Consultant archaeologist for EirGrid Declan Moore went through the environmental impact assessment for various sites close to the line of the proposed route. The magnitude of the impact of the proposed development on the setting of the Tara Complex would be minor. Should the development proceed, it would have a permanent, slight, negative impact on the setting of Tara.

In the Teltown area, no known archaeological monuments would be directly, physically impacted upon by the proposed development. Because of its high archaeological potential and as previously unrecorded archaeological remains could be found during the construction of the towers, mitigation measures were recommended.

The magnitude of the impact of the proposed development on the setting of Rath Dhu, the fort thought to be the centre for the ancient Teltown funeral games, was considered to be minor with the overall significance of the impact on the setting of the monument deemed to be slight.

Although the proposed power lines were almost 700m from Teltown church, a number of the towers associated with the development would be visible as it passed to the east. The magnitude of the impact of the proposed development was found to be substantial. The overall significance of the impact on the setting of Teltown church was found to be moderate negative.

EirGrid is suggesting that a licensed archaeologist supervises any excavations in advance of the construction of towers, thereby ensuring the early identification of archaeological deposits and minimal loss to the archaeological record. The National Monuments Service of the DAHG and the National Museum of Ireland would be consulted immediately should archaeology be discovered. An archaeologist would also monitor site access and construction works.

EirGrid’s assessment said the proposed development would not directly inhibit any tourist and amenity activities along the route of the power lines. However the reduction in the visual amenity of a local area might be perceived as reducing the attractiveness of an area used for tourist and amenity related activities. There would be a direct though localised visual impact on a short section of the Boyne Valley driving route, as the line crossed this route at two locations close to Bective Abbey and Gibstown. There would be direct but limited visibility when viewed from specific locations within Bective Abbey.

Other outdoor amenity areas and activities, including the location of Gibstown Drive-In Bingo, were in close proximity to the proposed development. While the overhead line would be visible from these areas and there might be a reduction in the visual amenity, it was unlikely to prohibit recreational activities continuing at these locations.

 

INTERCONNECTOR DAY12

This section dealt with human beings: tourism and amenity

Dympna Condra, tourism officer Monaghan County Council told the presiding inspector the proposed pylons and power lines would affect their ability to sell Monaghan as a tourist destination, especially for angling. Landscape and the natural environment were important elements in attracting visitors to County Monaghan. She pointed out that the development had the potential to impact adversely impact on tourism in Monaghan in general, owing to the visual impact upon the landscape.

A line of pylons constituted a visual intrusion on the landscape. The promotion of Monaghan as a destination for outdoor activities such as angling, walking, cycling, golf, horse riding and forest parks would be impacted by the proposed development, particularly in terms of visual impact.

ANGLING

The tourism officer said angling was an extremely important niche product for Co. Monaghan. The Council’s submission had outlined their concern about the visual impact in the Castleblayney, Ballybay and Carrickmacross lakelands area, and particularly at Lough Morne and Lough Egish. Their view was that this visual impact might adversely affect angling visitor numbers. She said EirGrid’s response that this was unlikely to prohibit activities continuing at these locations lacked detail as to how this conclusion had been arrived at, she said.

Dympna Condra pointed out that Monaghan County Council had invested hugely in the angling product in recent years, particularly, but not exclusively, at Lough Muckno. This had led to a huge increase in the numbers of angling tourists to Monaghan in the last three years, with Lough Muckno being the key attractor.

However, anglers tended to move around to fish at different lakes in the vicinity and the proposed development ran through a substantial part of this area. Lough Muckno has moved from having one or two dwindling angling festivals in 2012 to having twelve festivals scheduled for 2016, most of which attracted international anglers, who spread out to other lakes in the area. In addition, an angling festival is being revived in Carrickmacross and this would also augment the number of anglers to this wider area. In our experience over the last number of years, these were repeat visitors as Monaghan had a growing reputation for catering for the angling visitor.

IMPACT DURING CONSTRUCTION

EirGrid had stated that ‘whilst the visual effects of the construction of the pylons are assessed as being “temporary and locally significant” this would be unlikely to be significant for tourism owing to a number of factors. These included the generally transitory nature of tourists during an Irish rural holiday stay, moving between locations rather than remaining in one place for an extended period of time. Monaghan County Council maintains that this does not apply to the repeat angling visitor.

The tourism assessment by EirGrid was based on the general tourist market and an effort was made to locate the proposed development away from these facilities. However, the plethora of lakes in the Ballybay-Castleblayney area were key assets to the angling visitor and this did not seem to have been taken into account, according to the tourism officer.

Dympna Condra noted that it was Failte Ireland’s view that tourism factors (in particular the landscape) had been insufficiently developed in EirGrid’s assessment and that a further evaluation of the potential development on the landscape character of the area should be undertaken. She said the Council concurred with this view that tourism and landscape character were closely aligned. A group of angling journalists from the UK had visited Lough Egish last week making videos. So the visual aspect of the landscape was important for them.

The County Council’s submission to An Bord Pleanála last August pointed out there were a number of small lakes in this angling heartland. It expressed concern that the proximity of the line of pylons to some of these lakes might impact significantly on the angling amenity.

Lough Egish – this 117 hectare lake is a valuable pike fishery.

Lough Morne – this 45 hectare lake is a good game fishery and contains brown trout. Examples of other lakes in the general vicinity of the proposed line include:-

Corlatt Lake/Shantonagh Lake – these lakes drain into the Knappagh River and the River Annalee. It must be noted that the majority of these waters contain most of the coarse fish species with the exception of bream and tench but are regarded as very good pike fisheries.

Tonyscallon Lake – this lake covers an area of approximately three hectares and contains very good bream.

WALKING


The Monaghan Way is a 56.5km long distance walking route between Clontibret and Inniskeen. It is a stimulating combination of quiet country roads, cross country trekking, riverside walkways and lakeside approaches. Reflecting the Monaghan countryside, the walk mixes gentle sloping hill gradients with flat stretches of open countryside. There are no long or steep climbs and the route reaches a maximum altitude of 317m at the summit of Mullyash.

Eirgrid has accepted that along a 2km section of the Monaghan Way which runs parallel to and then crosses the power line route, walkers “will experience open views of towers at close proximity where there is no intervening vegetation, resulting in localised significant visual effects”. The tourism officer said this was a particular worry for those walkers choosing to start in Clontibret and it might have a significant impact on the numbers using the route.

Toirleach Gourley senior planner Monaghan County Council said there would be knock-on effects for visitors and on the landscape setting with its many lakes. He expressed fresh concern that two of the photomontages displayed by EirGrid showing the impact on the Monaghan Way at Lemgare Rocks near Clontibret and at Lough Morne near Lough Egish did not show the two most prominent pylons along the route which were both situated on high ground.

Brendan Allen a senior planner with ESB International said in making their assessment for EirGrid, they had identified the chief tourism assets in Monaghan from Failte Ireland records and the Co. Monaghan development plan, as well as various tourism websites. The Irish Trails website had provided them with information about the Monaghan Way which showed it started in Monaghan town and it was therefore described as being 64km in length. He said it had not been possible to obtain visitor statistics for the walking route, unlike many other trails where volunteer counters were used to compile the figures.

He said the environmental impact statement had acknowledged that fishing and angling tourism were important for Co. Monaghan. He told the hearing the setting of some of the lakes would be changed by the interconnector project. Regarding the impact of construction activity, Mr Allen said this would be broken up over short periods of time at various locations. The effects would pass over time, he added.

He said it was important to point out that in the route selection they had avoided the main tourism assets that were identified in the county plan. But it was not possible to avoid fully all tourism assets, such as the road where the power lines cross the Monaghan Way at Lemgare Rocks. Mr Allen said they had given due consideration to the visual impact at this point and at Lough Morne. According to the company, “any impact on local tourism resulting from the construction and operation of the proposed interconnector…must be considered in respect of the strategic need for and importance of the project, and the careful consideration of alternative routes.”

Tourism and leisure consultant Ken Glass for EirGrid said the impact statement had concluded that “the operation of the proposed development will not directly inhibit any tourist and amenity activities along its route.”

This section dealt with air (noise; vibration; climate)

An environmental health officer with Monaghan County Council Dermot McCague said they would have to discuss construction noise at the stage the pylons were being erected. He hoped they could come to an agreement with the developer to consult the Council about measures to be taken to reduce the impact on residents at each tower location. Work would be carried out during daylight hours and would have to be with the permission of the Council.

Barry Sheridan an acoustics consultant for EirGrid said the mitigation measures to be taken had been listed in the application and the response to submissions. It was predicted that the construction phase would result in a moderate, temporary and transient noise impact. Portable noise barriers would be used to screen the noise from machinery and piling work. Mr Sheridan was asked a series of questions by the presiding inspector about how the noise levels were measured.

The consultant explained the impact of operational noise on the power lines, such as turbulent wind noise (which occurred rarely on 400kV lines) and potential corona discharge. The latter became higher and might become audible in wet weather and in close proximity to the line. But on such occasions the background noise level of rainfall and wind tended to mask the noise from the transmission line.

EirGrid said no significant noise impact on animals was predicted to arise from the operation of the proposed line. Noise from the construction phase of the project would be similar to any other building site and should not cause any significant impact to livestock. Regarding operational noise such as gap sparking on the power lines, an equine specialist Michael Sadlier said most animals became habituated to noises. Once they realised there was no threat then they no longer responded.

A consultant occupational and environmental physician Dr Martin Hogan from UCC on behalf of EirGrid said the potential health aspects of noise had been dealt with in the environmental impact assessment. The standards and guidelines used in the appraisal were very stringent and designed to protect the most sensitive and vulnerable, he said. Dr Hogan was asked about the potential effect of the power lines on a person with autism. He said there was no real reason to suspect that people with ASD would be adversely affected by the project.

The hearing resumes this morning (Thursday) at the Nuremore Hotel in Carrickmacross with a module on cultural heritage. Officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are due to give their opinion about the impact of the interconnector on various sites in Monaghan, Cavan and Meath.

HEARING SCHEDULE

The presiding inspector Breda Gannon said she intended to continue the hearing on the following days (the schedule is usually posted daily on the Bord Pleanála website):

Week 5  Monday to Thursday  4th-7th April

Week 6 Monday to Thursday 11th to 14th April

Week 7 Monday to Wednesday 18th to 20th April

Week 8 Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th April

Week 9 Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5th May

Week 10 Monday 9th to Friday 14th May (dates updated on 20/04/16)

HIGH COURT APPLICATION

The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign will today (Thursday) before Mr Justice Humphreys at the High Court in Dublin continue with an application for leave to apply for a judicial review. Lawyers for the group have twice requested the presiding inspector to adjourn the hearing. But she has decided to continue with what she described as an “information gathering” exercise and said she would be reporting back to the Planning Board.

 

 

INTERCONNECTOR DAY9

This section dealt with construction, including temporary access routes

At the start of the hearing on Wednesday, presiding inspector Breda Gannon said she understood the concerns and difficulties expressed the previous day about the new information on temporary access routes that had been presented by EirGrid. She said she had decided to continue the hearing, the purpose of which was to act as an information gathering exercise to explore complex matters. She repeated her comments on the opening day, that the ultimate decision on the application rested with An Bord Pleanála, which would consider all matters raised and would have a number of options open to it. Her role was not to make a ruling on an item by item basis, she said. She invited observers and EirGrid to continue discussion on the construction module.

A lawyer for the NEPPC Michael O’Donnell BL said he had to accept the ruling but asked the inspector if she would agree to adjourn proceedings to allow an application to be made in court. This was rejected. The inspector said the NEPPC could continue to participate at any stage.

Robert Arthur of ESB International gave more details of the type of towers along the line, including a number of angle towers. Another ESBI consultant Jarlath Doyle explained details of the construction process, including the types of vehicles that would be used to bring concrete into fields where the steel pylons would be erected. It was also explained that ‘durabase’ matting was to be laid where necessary to provide access for vehicles in fields. These could be left in place for the duration of the construction process.

As an affected landowner with a pedigree Charolais herd on the family’s farm, Mary Marron of the CMAPC wanted to know if that meant the matting would be there for a span of three years. She called on EirGrid to be more specific about the fences that would be used to keep livestock away from the construction sites. Who was going to be responsible for the livestock and to whom could they address any queries relating to construction issues. It seemed that EirGrid was expecting each landowner to take responsibility for their animals and that was unacceptable.

Nigel Hillis of CMAPC pointed out that the type of fencing proposed along access routes was unsuitable for an agricultural setting. The pictures provided by EirGrid showed individual units of steel fencing joined together and anchored in blocks. He said such fencing was designed to keep people out, not animals and it would not stop a bull knocking it down. There was no proposal by the company to put up staked fencing with barbed wire, which is what farmers would use on their land.

Regarding the methodology used by the EirGrid consultants to investigate proposed access routes, Mr Hillis asked one of them if he had put on wellingtons and walked the dotted line shown on one of the maps leading to a proposed pylon site. He declined to answer the question. Some of his colleagues gave details later of how aerial photography combined with more recent Google mapping had allowed them to examine the possible routes, without having to contact landowners and access individual holdings.

Mr Hillis observed that the methodology of getting access to pylon sites was totally wrong. He explained that their committee had met on Tuesday evening and had decided they would not be returning as a group to the first part of the oral hearing.

Before departing Mary Marron said landowners should have been made aware of proposed changes. She asked EirGrid to provide proper photos of the type of machinery that would be used to access the pylon sites and asked for maps to show where matting would be laid. She requested the company to provide specific information on these issues.

Monaghan County Council senior planner Toirleach Gourley raised a number of questions with EirGrid about the details shown in some of the maps they had provided about the route of the line. He said the company had made an insufficient response to the concerns the Council had raised in their response to the planning application last August. Mr Gourley claimed a number of photomontages had limited legibility, such as one showing the point where the interconnector would cross the main N2 road at Annyalla.

A consultant landscape architect Joerg Schulze for EirGrid explained how he had drawn up the proposed route for the line, taking into account the relevant constraints such as avoiding residential areas where possible, sites of archaeological importance and loughs. In the drumlin landscape of County Monaghan it was not possible to avoid all drumlins but he believed he had found the best routing possible.

Mr Gourley said he was not convinced that putting pylons along the top of drumlins such as near Lough Egish was the ultimate choice. The planner also pointed out that Monaghan County Council had received no drawings showing the height and colour of the temporary buildings (portakabins) which EirGrid proposed to erect at a construction material storage yard beside the N2 at Monaltyduff/Monatybane outside Carrickmacross.