The Ratheniska group who took part in the Oral Hearing on Eirgrid’s planned substation, are hopeful the project will now be refused.
Colm Fingleton is PRO with the RTS Substation Action Group, whose members took turns arguing against the substation application at a six day hearing in the Killeshin Hotel.
“We are happy, we put our case across very strongly. We showed up all the issues with the site, we did our job. We are happy that the inspector assessed all the information, and took everything we said on board,” Mr Fingleton said.
The group of concerned residents and landowners spent four years researching and campaigning against the substation planned by Eirgrid in rural Coolnabacca.
“The work put in was huge. There was so many things involved. People were saying we were at nothing, it’s a done deal. If anything is learned from this, it’s to get everyone involved. For people not to question the need, or assume big companies will win anyway, that day is gone,” he said.
They say the substation is to facilitate windfarms.
“It was very clear on our research, that for the size of the station, it was to be a hub for windfarms and other lines. We would argue that a doubling of the grid would create a motorway for energy export. This project will have an impact on Eirgrid’s other applications.” Mr Fingleton says.
He says the cumulative effect of pylons and turbines when the station is fully operational, was not considered.
“They should have started at ground level and explained to people, instead of trying to sneak it in. It is only when we see the whole thing, that we know what we are going to live in,” he said.
Many of the RTS group took annual leave to attend the hearing, as well as locals and groups from other areas.
“We are taking a breather. We will see what happens with An Bord Pleanála. The hearing was torturous, everybody was there on a voluntary capacity, and we had meetings every single night. Even writing up the submissions took up a huge amount of time. It was a fantastic group, each person picked an area, so the load was spread well,” he said.
He is disappointed at the lack of national coverage, with a short slot on last week’s Primetime. A Newstalk interview was also postponed.
“Because this is not a problem affecting Dublin, it doesn’t get the airtime it should, but I think there is a growing concern out there. Laois is under severe pressure. It’s got to be dealt with sooner than later,” Mr Fingleton said.
An Bord Pleanála will make their decision by December 31.