Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne has accused the Government and Eirgrid of abandoning the needs of North East communities by refusing to consider alternatives to overhead power lines for the North South Interconnector.

The Meath Senator has heavily criticised a draft plan published by Eirgrid today, which offers no alternatives to overhead power lines in the North East.

“I find it incredible that Eirgrid is considering safer alternatives for the Grid Link  and Grid West projects but is refusing to do so the North South Interconnector.  It flies in the face of specific promises made by Fine Gael to local communities across the North East,” said Senator Byrne.

“Under this plan, Eirgrid proposes to upgrade some existing lines as part of the Grid Link project in the South East. Meanwhile Eirgrid also plans to move much of the power lines in the Grid West project underground.  Why is it then that these alternatives are not an option in the North East?

“This is further proof that the ‘review’ of Eirgrid’s pylon plans in the North East was a sham.  It was simply a way of Fine Gael kicking the matter down the road during the Meath East bye-election and the Local and European Elections.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that there was never any real intention to consider safer alternatives in this region.

“Communities across the North East are being treated as second class citizens as very real concerns about the serious impact of massive pylons are completely ignored. Absolutely no meaningful effort has been made to engage with local residents and landowners about the impact on the health and safety of families living in the vicinity of these overhead lines and the impact on our local environment.

“The residents who will be directly affected by these plans deserve more than empty promises and tokenism.  I am calling on the Government to insist that a proper engagement takes place with communities across the North East and that a thorough analysis is made of alternatives to pylons in this region.  It is up to the local Fine Gael and Labour TDs to ensure that this happens as a matter of priority. It is unacceptable that despite all their promises, it still has not happened yet.”