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Eirgrid powerline routes to be revealed in March

Eirgrid powerline routes to be revealed in March

Anton McNulty

The possible route corridors of the high voltage powerlines through Mayo are expected to be put on public display early next month with the preferred route likely to be identified in the Autumn.
The first stage of the planning process of the Eirgrid project which involves the construction of a high capacity power line from Bellacorick is coming to a close and the possible route corridors of the high voltage line will be identified.
The Grid West project is based on the region’s renewable potential and it is envisaged that, in time, the project will involve two 400KV capacity power lines from Bellacorick to both Cashla in County Galway and Flagford in County Roscommon.
Alan McHugh of Eirgrid told last week’s SPC Environment and Agriculture meeting that the possible routes of the line will likely to be known in early March and they will then start to identify the route with the least constraints.
“There are a lot of constraints in one way or the other and there will be many factors that will have to be taken into account. In the west there are ecological constraints which are no go areas where legislation dictates that you don’t go in that area. One of the corridors to Flagford or Cashla will have less constraints than the others,” he said.
The type of constraints which the project faces was highlighted on a map of the county which Cllr Peter Flynn described as ‘scary’. Mr McHugh explained that they will employ experts who will work along side the National Parks and Wildlife Services to investigate the different corridors. He added that they did not have the same constraints as a pipeline because they were not ‘digging up the ground’ and the pylons will be up between 200 to 400 metres apart.
It is hoped the design stage for the project will be completed by the end of 2014 and approved by An Bord Pleanála by 2015 with the line completed by 2019.
During the first stage of the project, there were a number of open days in different communities to explain what was occurring. Mr McHugh said that in 2013 they will be going to eight different venues around the county and a community liaison officer will work on the project.
“The community liaison officer will live and work in the west of Ireland and will be there to benefit the community and will be non-partisan. It is not used much in Ireland but has worked well in the UK. We are delivering lines around the country and we are learning lessons as we go along. The community liaison officer is not there for us, she is there for the community and she will make us aware of any issues and we will try to figure out a compromise,” he explained.
Chairman of the SPC, Cllr Flynn thanked Mr McHugh for his presentation and said the constraints shown on the map showed how Mayo was a landmine for development and the reality of life in the county.

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