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Minister tries to fob off community concerns on pylons – Carthy

14 November, 2013

The Sinn Féin EU candidate for the Midlands North West constituency, Matt Carthy, has hit out at Minister Pat Rabbitte for trying to dismiss community concerns on pylons as “not well founded”.

Carthy made his remarks in response to a statement issued by the minister this week.

Councillor Carthy said:

“I am disappointed that Minister Pat Rabbitte has fobbed off the concerns of citizens opposed to the construction by EirGrid of high voltage overhead powerlines and associated pylons in a statement this week.  His remarks raise serious doubts on the assertions of Fine Gael and Labour representatives across the counties affected by EirGrid’s proposals that they are bringing the views of communities to the highest level in government.

“In his statement the minister suggests that the concerns expressed by communities across the proposed routes of these pylons are ‘not well founded’.  Clearly the government are hearing the people but not listening to them.  

“There are genuine concerns by residents who are expected to live along the routes of these power-lines over the impact on land values, agriculture, tourism and the potential consequences on human health.  All of these concerns have been validated by international evidence.

“For example, a significant body of research by Professor Draper of Oxford University in 2005 found that living within 200 metres of high-voltage power-lines increases a child’s chance of getting cancer by 69% and within 600 metres it was increased by an average of 20%.  Previous studies have found cancer clusters associated with high-voltage power-lines.  Those living in the vicinity have been found to have a higher chance of suffering from lung cancer and leukemia.  While there is even a chance that these risks exist it should surely be the policy of government to err on the side of caution.

“This is especially the case considering there is a viable and feasible alternative for EirGrid and the government.  

“Undergrounding the power-lines is the safest and best option and has been recognised by an International Expert Commission, employed by the government as ‘a viable option’.

“Fianna Fáil and the Green party refused to listen to the views of communities on this issue while they were in government.  I fear that Fine Gael and Labour are intent on doing the same.  I would appeal to the minister and the government to listen to the views of residents across the border, midlands, western and south east areas and not allow a situation develop where land-owners and their communities are pitted against the state.  It is clear that the resolve of people living along these routes is resolute.  Therefore, in order to save time, money and good-will the government and EirGrid should develop a policy which could see Ireland become a world leader in the development of Underground Electric technology.

“Minister Rabbitte and his government colleagues would do well to stop burying their heads in the sand and start listening to the people on this issue”.

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