By Conor Ganly firstname.lastname@example.org @laoisnews
A Laois group that opposes a big electricity development is 'outraged' that it cannot get a meeting with Laois County Council on the project in the Ratheniska Timahoe area.
The Ratheniska Timahoe Spink Substation Group said the Council and its chief execcuitve are refusing to meet the group in relation to the proposed substation at Coolnabacca.
Laois County Counicl has declined to comment.
The campaigners say that a year ago they stopped the illegal development by Eirgrid.
It says there was no commencement notice, no Construction and Environmental Management Plan and none of the planning conditions had been discharged.
They say this matter was condemned at the time by the three TDs who highlighted the seriousness of the matter in the Dáil with the responsible Minister Denis Naughten who also condemned Eirgrid’s behavior.
RTS say semi-State company Eirgrid were told by Minister Charlie Flanagan to ”pack up and not come back”, such was the seriousness of the breach of planning law.
All Laois citizens should be hugely concerned by the manner in which Eirgrid were allowed to carry out this illegal work, in the full knowledge of Laois County Council.
The group claim that information received under freedom of information showed that Laois County Council were aware of Eirgrid starting the works and had communicated with them on the matter. It is also claimed that the works were only stopped by RTS and local intervention, resulting in an enforcement notice being served on all directors of EirGrid.
“We believe that Eirgrid and Laois County Council’s behavior is putting the future of our groundwater, water supply, environment and landscape in jeopardy. If this precious source of water is damaged, there is no alternative source of supply,” says the RTS group.
RTS says it believes it recently learned Eirgrid is to return with no consultation or commencement notice.
RTS also believes the information being submitted by Eirgrid is once again incomplete, making it impossible for council planners to make a true and full assessment of the impacts of the project on the groundwater, environment and community.
“How can the community trust Eirgrid to build a massive station for sixteen power lines, containing 500600 tons of oil on top of the water supply for up to 10,000 people in Laois after what they have done before?
“We now cannot trust Laois County Council to oversee any of the works on this project,” they said.
The group says their concerns are being ignore.
They argue that this is a case of the State bodies pushing through an infrastructure project regardless of the legalities and implications for the people of Laois.
“We are calling on Minister Denis Naughten, Minister Charlie Flanagan, TD Sean Fleming and TD Brian Stanley who sits on the Committee with responsibility for Eirgrid to request a full independent investigation into what has happened in this case and the treatment of the local community,” said a statment.
RTS say its complaints have been accepted by both the United Nations Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee and the European Commission.
Our concerns over the risk to the water have never been assessed as is required by law. RTS say that we will not be ignored by the County manager and Laois County Council and under no circumstances is this project going to go ahead and be forced on our community after the reckless behavior of Eirgrid last year, the latest in a litany of EirgGrid failures.