Eirgrid brings council to court

REsidents in Ratheniska have vowed not to co-operate with the State company that wants to build massive pylons on their area, after the company went to court this week to force county hall to rescind a measure which would block a big electricity project.

REsidents in Ratheniska have vowed not to co-operate with the State company that wants to build massive pylons on their area, after the company went to court this week to force county hall to rescind a measure which would block a big electricity project.

Eirgrid brought a High Court challenge to Laois County Council’s policy requiring all new power lines over 400kv to be placed underground. In getting a judicial review Eirgrid said a policy adopted by county councilors would make the building of a substation impossible.

It claims the council erred in law by adopting the policy.

Speaking to the Leinster Express, a spokesperson from Eirgrid said that the company had no other choice but to go to court.

“Having made three separate submissions to the Laois County Development Plan, Eirgrid is unfortunately left with no alternative but to make an application for leave to apply for judicial review of the decision to include the policy which requires that all future 400kV lines be put underground in County Laois.”

She said that Eirgrid believes that the inclusion of this policy in the Laois County Development Plan 2011–2017 is contrary to the National Spatial Strategy and the regional planning guidelines.

“This policy would hinder regional development and would impact on our ability to fulfil our duty to develop a reliable economic and efficient network EirGrid’s Grid25 programme is a €3.2bn investment in Ireland, through the upgrading of and expansion of the national electricity transmission network, including the network in the midlands area. This infrastructure is crucial to enabling the delivery of Ireland’s national energy strategy and the creation of jobs and investment,” she added.

Chairman of the Ratheniska Timahoe and SpinK Substation Action group, John Lowry said that there would be no co-operation between residents and Eirgrid unless they withdraw their High Court challenge.

“We will be supporting our county councillors all the way in everything that they decide to do from now on. There will be a complete lockdown regarding work that Eirgrid are doing on our land.”

Mr Lowry said that there had been no contact at all from Eirgrid in recent months. He added that “using underground cables for new lines should be their policy going forward. It can be done. They have a 400Kv line over 28 km in Dublin. The line in Laois is 1 1/2km, it should be within their means to do that.”

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald told the Leinster Express that although councillors had been verbally informed of the decision, Laois County Council has not yet received written noticification. She said that councillors would be briefed on the issue early next week.

“It is of great concern to us, but we don’t know what is happening yet,” she said.

The county manager Mr Petery Carey advised councillors against adopting an underground only policy in the new county development plan.