Two State-owned companies who began work on a major electricity project without the planning clearance have been forced to meet with Laois County Council over what a Government Minister has said was 'totally unacceptable' unauthorised pylon work.
EirGrid and ESB Networks today, June 30, met with council in relation to the Laois-Kilkenny Reinforcement Project. EirGrid has planning permission for a major electricity substation at Coolnabacca in the Ratheniska / Timahoe / Spink area of Laois.
However, they began work without have a commencement notice from Laois County Council. Its officials argued that the digging of holes and installing of several pylons in concrete bases was exempt from planning permission. A road was also laid alongside other work.
Residents blew the whistle on the companies after discovering that the power companies had not been given the green light to proceed.
In a statement issued today, little was given away about the meeting which was held behind closed doors.
"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.
"The meeting, which was held in order to address issues regarding planning conditions on the project, was constructive and EirGrid and ESB Networks look forward to resolving the matter quickly.
"EirGrid and ESB Networks regret this occurrence and we apologise to Laois County Council and the local communities. We understand the concerns this incident may have caused and we would like to reassure you that we are reviewing our processes to ensure this does not occur in the future," it said.
The work carried out angered local residents.
Laois County Council has yet to make a comment on the talks.
The issue was raised in the Dáil this week the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment Denis Naughten. He described the unauthorised work carried out as 'totally unacceptable'.