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‘Nobody will want these cables around’

Councillor acknowledges anticipated difficulties with Eirgrid project

Ciara Galvin

THERE has been widespread support across the county in recent weeks for Eirgrid’s proposals to  develop and upgrade the county’s electricity transmission network but at a meeting last week one Mayo County Councillor said there was no point in ignoring the ‘elephant in the room’ in relation to the location of the pylons which will need to be erected as part of the ambitious project.
Cllr Seamus Weir, speaking at a Environmental Policy and Agricultural Strategic Policy last Wednesday, said he welcomed the project but added that ‘nobody will want these cables around’.
His sentiments were echoed by Mr Thomas Fitzpatrick, a representative of the Irish Farmers Association. He said his organisation were not against the project but felt the public may be ‘shocked when the lines go up’.
A public information campaign surrounding the Grid West project has already begun, and its Senior Project Manager, Alan McHugh, was addressing the meeting, laying out the timeframe which is being put before the public.
Chairman of the Environmental Policy and Agricultural Strategic Policy Committee, Cllr Peter Flynn, acknowledged that the consultation process with the public would be critical but added that ‘anyone investing €240 million in the area would be welcomed.’
Mr McHugh outlined Eirgrid’s plan for installing a high capacity power circuit in Bellacorick, Co Mayo in order to maximise the resources in the area.
“The west is becoming more of a supplier than a user and we have a massive resource sitting on our doorstep. It’s just a matter of tapping into it,” said Mr McHugh, who admitted Eirgrid’s past endeavors had seen cases of large community support but also cases of opposition.
Plans for further talks with the communities involved were outlined by Mr McHugh who described his own intention to have his ‘ear to the ground’ by opening an information office on Linenhall Street, Castlebar.
“The office will be open two days a week to meet people,” said McHugh.