Heritage town loses to money

I am amazed that when it comes down to money, principles and responsibilities are suddenly forgotten.

From the highest levels, decency and common sense give way to greed. This is evident in the matter of Eirgrid’s plan to put 150ft electricity towers through the Heritage Town of Lismore, Co Waterford.

The body formed from the Heritage Act of 1995 to oversee and protect designated heritage areas is the Heritage Council. Why are they allowing the electricity giant, Eirgrid to plan its 150ft pylon route through this beautiful Heritage Town? The answer is money.

The Gridlink Plan calls for a 1km “preferred corridor”, as Eirgrid calls it, to traverse Co Waterford through the beautiful Comeragh Mountains. It heads across the Blackwater Valley through Lismore. These high capacity power lines will come within a few hundred metres of the Blackwater Community School where 800 students will spend six years of their lives.

The pylons will be seen from the town and the Blackwater Valley. Lismore is an award-winning tidy town known for its castle and centuries of culture. This will damage everything the people of Lismore have worked so hard to achieve. Isn’t this exactly what the Heritage Council is supposed to prevent? What are they doing about it?

Eirgrid claims local public information advertising was carried out for communities and individuals to object in the early stages of its process. There was not one objection lodged by anyone in Co Waterford. That is because Eirgrid did not place an ad in the two local papers, The Dungarvan Leader and The Dungarvan Observer. These two papers are the local papers for 60km of the pylon route across Co Waterford that goes from Great Island in Wexford to Knockraha in Cork. They did advertise in the Limerick Leader, but the Eirgrid route does not go anywhere near Limerick City.

At a Bride and Blackwater Against Pylons community meeting held in November, the question was asked to the large audience “How many of you knew about the pylons coming through Lismore before October 1?” Two people knew.

We have not heard from the two elected officials charged with overseeing Heritage and Tourism — Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht and Leo Varadkar TD, Minister of Transport Tourism and Sport. There is an eerie silence from our elected officials.

The time has come for people to stand up and do the job they are getting paid to do. Why bother spending all the money on a Heritage Council if they are going to look the other way when an area like Lismore is threatened? It is their job to protect the integrity of a Heritage Town and keep this travesty from happening.

Martin Power

Lismore

Co Waterford

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