EIRGRID are “pretty confident” that they will be submitting their application for planning permission to An Bord Pleanala within the next month.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Eirgrid representative Ciara Feehely said that there is no deadline for the application which will outline the proposed substation for Ratheniska, but that it is expected to be submitted in the coming weeks.
“The length of time depended on the studies we had to carry out which cover a variety of things, including meetings with landowners. We are nearly ready”.
Ms Feehely said that Eirgrid has been in consultation with landowners since 2009. “We are always talking to landowners and they are always talking to us. They are directly involved”.
Chairman of the Ratheniska Timahoe Spink substation action group, John Lowry, told the Leinster Express that this statement was not accurate. “We didn’t hear anything at all from them, they don’t consult with local landowners. They have not been forthcoming with any information”.
Mr Lowry said that he didn’t know if next year’s Ploughing Championships coming to Ratheniska would affect the outcome of the An Bord Pleanala decision.
“We are very pleased to be hosting the ploughing. In relation to powerlines, if more lines come it will be a disaster. There have already been issues with powerlines in relationt o health and safety of the ploughing. It will be bringing in a lot more funds. I doubt if Eirgrid are going to bring in €40 million per year”.
When asked about the application, Ms Feehely said that she couldn’t comment on An Bord Pleanala decisions. “What I can say is that we are very sure of the need for this infrastructure and it is very important”. She said that the company was at “a very interim stage” of the process, and that they would advertise when they have submitted the application.
“There will be an opportunity for the public to engage with An Bord Pleanala. At that point there will be a consultation period there”.
Residents from Ratheniska, Timahoe, Spink and the surrounding areas have previously staged protests both outside County Hall in Portlaoise and outside Eirgrid meetings in objection to the proposed substation.