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Ireland should become world leader in underground high voltage power lines – Carthy

5 November, 2013

The Sinn Féin candidate for the Midlands North West EU constituency, Matt Carthy, has reiterated his call for Eirgrid’s proposed 400kv overhead power-lines to be undergrounded. 

Carthy stated that there is a real opportunity for Ireland, north and south, to become a world leader in developing an underground network of high-voltage powerlines.  Other states, such as Denmark, have already made massive strides in this area.

Councillor Carthy was speaking in advance of a mass public meeting which will be held tonight night in Trim, Co. Meath organised by the North East Pylon Pressure Group (NEPP) who are campaigning for the undergrounding of the North-South Innterconnector.

Councillor Carthy said:

“Sinn Féin stands shoulder to shoulder with the communities affected by the plans of Eirgrid and NIE to erect 400kv pylon-supported powerlines from Counties Tyrone through to Meath.  

"This has now become a national issue as communities across the Midlands, West and South of the country are also faced with the prospect of having their communities blighted by EirGrid’s plans.  The continuing failure of the companies involved to listen to the concerns of local residents has been nothing short of disgraceful.

“Communities are extremely worried about the potential health impacts that go along with living in close proximity of high-power electricity pylons.  Noise and concerns around agriculture and property values have also been expressed.  There are also significant concerns around the impact on tourism and local economies that the placing of these pylons in areas of scenic beauty and historical significance would have.

“Underground cables are a viable option and this was has been stated categorically in the report of an International Commission carried out at the request of the government.  

“The technology involved in placing cables underground is advancing rapidly making it entirely likely that the initial cost differential in construction between overhead and underground cabling will merge in a relatively short period of time. 

“As it stands, several reports have confirmed that the ‘life-time’ cost associated with underground cabling is equal to or lower than the overhead equivalent.  They have lower transmission losses than overhead lines because, due to thermal reasons, underground cables have a larger conductor and therefore significantly smaller losses.  Studies on several 400 kv transmission grids show that the characteristics of underground cables can, in many cases, be beneficial to the overall performance of the network.  Disturbance of underground cables occurs less frequently than for overhead lines.  Overhead cables are also affected by severe weather. Only outside influences can disturb and damage underground cables.  Underground cables are low-maintenance compared to overhead lines.

“I appeal to the government to take the opportunity that presents to make Ireland a world leader in underground technology.  It is my view that the transmission grid will be developed much faster in such a scenario as communities are on record as stating that they will support this option and therefore EirGrid and the NIE will advance through the planning and development process without the mass objections they will undoubtedly encounter if they proceed with their current plans to ignore the concerns of the communities throughout the counties affected. 

“The apparent whole-scale support for EirGrid’s plans emanating from the government is disappointing considering the pre-election utterances from Fine Gael representatives prior to the General Election. 

“It is time for government to listen to our communities and to direct EirGrid to begin the process of developing an underground high-voltage grid network.”

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