EirGrid begins pylon removal at €110 million Laois Kilkenny electricity project

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

EirGrid Pylon work at Laois electricity project

EirGrid pylon work at Laois electricity project that has to be undone.

EirGrid have started restoration works at the site €110 million power project in Laois which started without planning permission.

A spokesperson for the State's power infrastructure body told the Leinster Express that the work will continue for at least a week at the site of a proposed substation in the Ratheniska / Timahoe area of the county.

The work will involve:

•  Dismantling the partially erected tower and digging out of the associated bases.

•  Transportation of all materials from the site.

•  Removal of stoned access created over drain.

•  Make good all disturbed lands.

•  Allow local hedgerows removal to naturally regenerate.

The work is being carried on foot of an order from Laois County Council. EirGrid has accepted that itself and its partner ESB networks that work carried out earlier this year did not have planning permission.

The council was forced to act after local residents in the Ratheniska, Spink, Timahoe (RTS) Action Group blew the whistle when they found that no planning permission was in place.

ESB networks had claimed to the council that the work was exempt from planning permission. ESB and EirGrid later admitted that the work started in April 2017 at the Coolnabacky electricity station site "without the planning conditions being discharged with Laois County Council, including the erection of a temporary pylon".

The issue was raised in the Dáil with Minister Denis Naughten by Laois TDs Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley. He described the carrying out of work without permission as 'totally unacceptable'. Laois TD and Government Minister Charlie Flanagan also attacked what went on.

EirGrid has submitted a request for an amendment to An Bord Pleanála regarding its planning decision on the Laois-Kilkenny reinforcement project. A decision is expected from the board on this by mid-October.

The overall time-scale for delivery of the scheme remains unchanged, ie end of 2020.

EirGrid and ESB Networks later apologised to Laois County Council and the community for starting work without permission.

EirGrid say the Laois-Kilkenny Reinforcement project is a €110 million investment that will ensure that the electricity network can meet the needs of all users, from homes to farms, and small businesses to industrial customers.

"It is a critical piece of national infrastructure," says the company.

The RTS Action Group fought the EirGrid's substation and linked pylons to the courts but were ultimately unsuccessful. They raised said EirGrid acted disgracefully when starting work without planning permission.They also criticised Laois County Council for not enforcing planning regulations when the whistle was blown.