Landowners vow to block ESB power line

A BITTER stand-off was looming last night as landowners vowed to block ESB plans to run a power line over their property.

ESB Networks crews were erecting poles for the controversial 38Kv power line on the property of at least four landowners in the Colomane area of Bantry in West Cork yesterday. An ESB spokesman said the rest of the project should take no more than a few days.

He said the company served notice on the group’s solicitor Greg Casey - who was the legal adviser to the Rossport Five - that the ESB has the legal right to carry out the work.

But the Bantry Concerned Action Group (BCAG) said they were prepared to defy the court orders and go to jail.

Joe Burke, who heads up the group, said he and his neighbours still had health fears about the line and would physically block ESB crews from getting access to their land.

“I will go to jail before I let them in,” he said.

“We will stand in front of them and we won’t let them in. They are not putting any poles on my land.

“We’re going to stand our ground. We’re talking about peoples’ rights here. People can’t come onto your own private land and push you aside and threaten you.”

He also criticised local public representatives.

“They’ve told us they support us but where are they when we need them,” Mr Burke said last night.

The 14km power line is scheduled to run from a windfarm planned by Ballybane Windfarms Ltd, at Glantia Commons near Caheragh, Drimoleague, via Colomane to a sub-station at Ballylickey near Bantry.

Ballybane Windfarms Ltd had offered to lay four of the 14 kilometres underground.

But the company withdrew an offer of improved compensation for the landowners before Christmas and withdrew from negotiations.

The ESB subsequently secured court orders against the objecting landowners under a 1927 act.

The power generated by the windfarm will be distributed to a local network, servicing homes and businesses, and will not be connected to the national grid.

The compensation offer, brokered by the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association but rejected by the BCAG, was €7,000 for a double pole and €14,000 for a steel pylon, in addition to an annual mast interference payment.

An offer of €2,000 was available in cases where the cables passed over land where there would be no support poles or pylons.

Mr Burke said local objections were never based on compensation but purely on health grounds.

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