The ESB should start developing local power in Connemara rather than littering it with pylons, it was claimed today.
An Bord Pleanála has rejected the state company’s plan to build a new power distribution station and an 18-mile overhead power-line which would run through a bog designated as a special area of conservation.
Galway Green Party Councillor Niall Ó Brolchain said it made no sense to run the power line through a scenic and sparsely populated area.
“I think the ESB need a more long-term approach. This particular idea is just littering the countryside with pylons. We are facing an energy crisis down the line and I personally believe we need to look at a lot more localised solutions,” he said.
Mr Ó Brolchain said it would be far more efficient for the ESB to develop local power generation, which would lead to less power being wasted in transmission.
“One of the things we’re plugging in the west of Ireland is a far more liberal approach to ways of electricity generation such as wind power, wave power and tidal power,” he said.
“It’s possible and practicable to have windmills in the west of Ireland. There’s no question about that. There’s also an experimental wave energy machine off the Connemara coast at the moment.”
The ESB had been granted permission by Galway County Council last August to construct a new 38-kilovolt station in the Camus Eighter townland of Connemara.
It would have required the removal of 15,000 cubic metres of peat, which An Bord Pleanála said would lead to significant adverse environmental impacts.
An Bord Pleanála also said that the construction of an overhead power-line from the Galway city suburbs to Camus would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
It said the power line would cause visual distortion to the natural contours of ‘remote, unspoiled, highly scenic’ locations and would disturb vulnerable wintering and breeding birds of high conservation value.
Mr Ó Brolchain said the plan was clearly unacceptable from an environmental point of view and had been rightly turned down by An Bord Pleanála.
“I’m not saying there is no need for a line, but the route selection for the line was strange to say the least. It would make a lot more sense to run it along the Connemara coast near the existing line.”
The ESB had said that the overhead power line was necessary due to serious problems with the existing 38kV network in parts of Connemara like Oughterard, Recess, Clifden and Spiddal.
It is currently considering its response to An Bord Pleanála’s decision.