About turn on substation

AT least half of Laois county councillors have signed a letter objecting to the proposed “super-substation”, which is planned for Laois.

AT least half of Laois county councillors have signed a letter objecting to the proposed “super-substation”, which is planned for Laois.

As of last Friday March 15, it was understood that a large number of councillors had signed the letter, however councillors were reluctant to reveal the names of everyone who had signed.

This comes after last year’s decision by councillors not to contest a possible legal challenge by Eirgrid. It threated to bring Laois County Council to court over a policy in the county development plan which requires all new power lines over 400kv to be placed underground.

The objection letter will be sent to An Bord Pleanala this week, as the deadline for submissions on Eirgrid’s planning application is this Thursday March 21. The letter outlines a number of reasons why councillors “object in the strongest terms” to Eirgrid’s proposed project.

Councillors also requested An Bord Pleanal hold an oral hearing as part of the planning process and that an environmental impact study be prepared in order to examine the impact of the project in detail.

Reasons for the objection listed in the letter include the landscape surrounding the area; the heritage as there are “many key heritage assets in the proximity of the project”; scenic views which “would be damaged by infrastructure of this scale and type”; the natural habitat; tourism; and propoerty devaluation.

The letter states: “This significant and permanent impact has not been acknowledged or dealt with as part of the planning process so far”.

Other reasons include the cause of stress among communities and the location of an aquafier in the area. “The project is proposed to be sited on a regionally important aquafier that serves approximately 1,500 homes and a number of schools. We are concerned about the permanent risks that the propject would pose to this vital resource and the people depending on it”.

Councillors also stated that “we cannot see how this project will enhance the lives of those in affected communities in any way”.

As well as this letter, Laois County Council will also be making a submission to An Bord Pleanala.

A number of councillors attended an RTS Substation Action Group meeting last month in Ratheniska where they came under fire from local residents.Fand Cooney who had spoken to the meeting about the effect the proposed substation would have on the nearby ekser, read out Laois County Council’s mission statement to councillors present. They included Cllr James Daly, Cllr Padraig Fleming, Cllr Tom Mulhall and Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.

“Laois County Council’s mission statement is ‘We will provide leadership, develop, promote, protect and regulate our county and deliver quality public services so as to enhance the quality of life for the community’. Nothing about this project will enhance my community”, she said to applause from the large attendance.

“We want councillors to stand up. Eirgrid have €100,000 to put into this planning application. We are calling on councillors to stand up and do what you are paid to do - to provide leadership and protect our area”.