More than 1,500 people walked through the cold and rain at the weekend to protest against a proposed Eirgrid network of pylons designated for the area around the Comeragh Mountains.
One of the possible lines of pylons suggested by Eirgrid — as part of its Grid25 project to upgrade the country’s electricity grid by 2025 — runs through Co Waterford and has drawn major opposition because of local fears about the effect of pylons on the countryside and on health and safety.
Saturday’s walk was jointly organised by the Comeraghs Against Pylons and Comeragh Rathgormack K9 Pylon Prevention groups and took protesters from Crough Wood on the edge of the Comeraghs to the picturesque Mahon Falls.
The campaign is one of several sprouting up around the country in opposition to possible networks of pylons.
The line of protesters making their way to Mahon Falls. Pic: Mary Browne
Among those taking part in the protest on Saturday were walking groups, scout groups, members of sporting organisations, pupils from national schools, councillors and TDs Paudie Coffey (Fine Gael), John Halligan and Mattie McGrath (both Independent), and Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane.
The walk was due to have been led by former world cycling number one Seán Kelly, who is originally from the nearby parish of Clonea -Power, but he was delayed in Belgium on Friday night and could not attend.
He said on Saturday evening: “It’s a disgrace that they’re going to put something like that in the countryside. Especially in the Comeraghs. It just can’t be allowed.”
He repeated calls for the power grid to be placed underground.
Mattie McGrath called on Pat Rabbitte, the minister for energy and natural resources, not to allow an overground pylon network.
“Show him where the Comeragh mountains are. Show him what a sheep looks like. But above all, show him how we’re going to stand against this madness,” he said.
Dermot Kirwan of the Comeragh Against Pylons group said that it was “unbelievable” to think Eirgrid would place a network of pylons across the Comeragh Mountains.
“I heard during the week that Minister Rabbitte is not for turning. But he won’t have to turn, he’s going to be carried away on the flow of people.”
Government TD Paudie Coffey said the ultimate decision about the pylons would come down to An Bord Pleanála. He said the Government had to consider the future electricity needs of the country, but said Eirgrid should put any new grid underground.
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