EirGrid says erection of 750 pylons will not cause ill health

EirGrid has said the erection of 750 high-rise pylons across the south of Ireland will not affect the health of residents, despite concerns raised by a Government MEP.

The power transmission operator will today take final submissions on the Gridlink project, which will involve the construction of huge electricity pylons from Cork to Wexford.

Project manager John Lowry last night promised there would be no health implications, but reiterated that any “undergrounding” of the grid connections would be costly.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime programme, he said: “People have concerns [as] regards health and I can assure people there are absolutely no health implications here with regards infrastructure and any impact on health.”

Putting the electricity links for the new grid underground would be challenging, he said. “It cannot be done technically using the same type of technology that we use right across the transmission system, which is the same right across the world,” said Mr Lowry.

The deadline for public submissions on the Gridlink project expires today. The Government said the extended construction is needed to service the grid and facilitate job creation.

Members of the public, businesses, and others can submit objections or proposals to the operator in its offices in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, by 6pm today. Alternatively, submissions can be made by email to gridlink@eirgrid.com or by telephone on 1890 422 122. The Midleton offices in Cork will not be open.

Mr Lowry said EirGrid would examine all submissions, including late ones.

“This is an early stage in the process,” said Mr Lowry. “No decisions have been made on the corridor, never mind the route of the overhead line. It’s only at that point that we will begin the detailed design process and detailed environmental impact assessment, which will take further time.”

He said no planning submission for the Gridlink project would be made before 2016. Another round of consultation will also open up later this year.

Ireland South MEP Phil Prendergast said EirGrid had failed to alert rural communities about their plans.

“As a healthcare professional, I’m extremely concerned with the health risks that pylons may pose and EirGrid have been ambiguous about the potential dangers,” she said.

“Constituents are particularly annoyed that EirGrid does not have to follow the usual local planning permission rules that everybody conforms to when planning to build smaller structures on to their houses or gardens.

“While I welcome a saving in electricity costs it’s crucial that the public’s concerns are heeded before any vast plan of this scale is rolled out.

“There are regular protest meetings about this issue nationwide, and [on Sunday] over 40 anti-pylon groups met in Enniscorthy who represent over 50,00 people.

“Also, in the village of Knockraha in East Cork, they will be submitting over 100 objections to the plan before tomorrow’s submission.”

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