In April 2007 the SAFE (Safe Alternative For Electricity [transmission]) group was started to support the existing AMP group. They included all concerned residents living in close proximity to the proposed 35 mile (56km) long 220kv Power line from Flagford Carrick on Shannon to Srananagh (near Sooey) Co Sligo.. This line was proposed by ESB in 2000 and Planning Permission was first granted in October 2001 by Roscommon Leitrim and Sligo county councils; it was upheld on appeal to An Bord Pleanala in October 2002. The proposed pylons are on average 120ft high carrying 5 lines. There is also a requirement that a (68m) wide corridor be kept sterile along the entire length of the line. SAFE supported and continues to support landowners who favour the underground option.
Many young couples who bought /built new houses along proposed route were not aware of any such proposed power line. Some landowners were contacted by Trevor Sheridan (ESB) on May 26th 2000. They were given a briefing document and a plan of the route. No consultation whatsoever took place but they agreed instead to meet just a few concerned local residents. A meeting took place in Grange National School in September 2000. ESB personnel namely, Bernard O Reilly Transmissions Assets Manager; Cathal O Luain and Eugene Bergin (senior project manager and senior architect), arrived at the meeting with plans already drawn up. They had maps with them of where the line was going to be erected. Reference to this meeting is mentioned on p6 of the EIS where it mentions "considerable emphasis on the underground option". There was absolutely no consultation and they had simply come to tell the group where the line was going. Maps were requested by local people but not furnished.The required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) done was shoddy and inadequate.
Thousands of objections were lodged with the three county councils (Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim) prior to planning permission being granted in October 2001 and all objections were ignored by the County Managers. In Roscommon the County Manager even refused to answer letters from concerned residents regarding the line. It is also noteworthy that a lot of communication is missing from the file in the council offices. It was agreed by Roscommon Co Council that they would abide by the rules of Agenda 21 (which includes public participation). However, they refused to talk to people who were concerned about the adverse health effects; visual intrusion and devaluation resulting from the project.
The case was appealed to An Bord Pleanala (ABP); the ABPs Inspector commented on the EIS put forward by ESB for this project, stating that it was a very poor document An B Pl Inspectors report.pdf The board of ABP ruled against their own Inspector and gave the project the go ahead in October 2002. An Oral Hearing was requested but was refused without reasonable explanation. There was therefore no evidence whatsoever of democracy or Public Participation and the line was pushed through regardless of the concerns of the people.
In April 2010 a court injunction was obtained against the Roddy family in Grange in order to erect two pylons on their land. They obeyed the injunction as they were recommended to do so by their legal team. The court injunction together with the intimidation and bullying heaped on the Roddy family served as a warning to all others not to resist the ESB plans and, true to form most landowners capitulated. The Roddy family have not accepted any compensation; they have not signed a deed of easement and the case is unfinished although the pylons have been constructed and the lines are live since summer of 2012. That part of the line built on Roddy's land is without their permission or consent. It must be noted that landowners are perfectly within their rights to refuse access to anyone to their lands and there is no law in Ireland to make anyone sign their name to any document. A landowners signature is vital to ESB as in this way they have full access to the lands anytime they want. They can also sell on their valuable assets which include rights to peoples lands-in other words the signature places a burden on the deeds in perpetuity for access to a 68m strip of the land under the length of the lines. Out of interest, it has never been clarified who is responsible should any adverse health effects arise - is it reasonable to expect that the landowner, who has signed a deed of easement and accepted compensation, is and will be responsible for any adverse health effects??
The following issues are of primary concern to SAFE:
1.Health: People are extremely concerned about their health with reference to electro magnetic fields/radiation (EMF) not alone the proven resulting increases in leukaemia in children but also adult leukaemia; adult brain tumours; motor neurone disease; miscarriage and adverse birth outcomes; depression; Alzheimers and breast cancer.(Henshaw 2014) It is also deeply worrying to find that Insurance Companies such as FBD have an EMF exclusion clause on their insurance policies. A report by the SCENIHR Committee (published May 2007) which was commissioned for the EU has confirmed a possible link between childhood leukaemia and living close to High Voltage overhead Power lines. See the following link for more details: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/documents/20070504_mid_en.pdf and http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_007.pdf There is presently a very large amount of evidence that high voltage transmission lines constitute a health hazard The Bioinitiative Report is particularly useful BioInitiativeReport2012.pdf (see also EMF section). ESB do not take responsibility for the health of people living in the vicinity of such lines. This leads to massive concerns about who is responsible when people suffer ill health. Is it reasonable to expect that the landowner, who has signed a deed of easement and accepted compensation, is and will be responsible for any adverse health effects?? Unlike an injury suffered by a fall or suchlike, public liability insurance does not cover the adverse effects of EMF-it is in fact specifically excluded.
2. Property Devaluation: Home and Property owners living in close proximity to proposed line are devastated about the serious devaluation to their properties. Up to 60% has been wiped off the value of houses in close proximity to lines. In a number of instances the actual landowners (with pylons/power lines on lands) live off site (e.g. Dublin and abroad) but still receive compensation. However those who live on the adjacent land, although directly affected in a lot of instances, receive nothing. These are termed "Indirectly affected" property owners and receive nothing- something that is neither just nor fair. It is fair to expect perhaps that the landowner who has accepted compensation must bear responsibility for the devaluation of his/her neighbours property?
3.Visual Intrusion: Pylons (especially 120ft high) are very unsightly and visually intrusive. They destroy the appearance of our beautiful landscape-so important for tourism. The route of the Flagford to Srananagh line is sliced through magnificent countryside and is very close to the Bricklieve Mountains/Caves of Keash and a large number of megalithic and bronze age monuments. Wynnes View close to Cloonloo Co Sligo is also an area of wonderful scenery and breathtaking views. It is virtually impossible for anyone to get Planning Permission to build a dwelling house in this area-yet the ESB had no problem getting permission to run pylons and wires through the landscape.
4. Lack of Consultation: People whose homes or lands are in close proximity to the proposed lines (but do not have pylons on or wires crossing their lands) were never informed/consulted about the power line nor did they receive maps showing the line.
A fundamental purpose of an EIA is to ensure that decisions on environmentally significant projects (such as this one)are adequately informed in terms of information eminating from relevant information sources ( the public concerned represents one of these information sources) and this is expressly recognised by Article 6 (2) of the Impact Assessment Directive.
There are many questions SAFE would like answered:
1. Why does ESB/Eirgrid refuse to give a written guarantee regarding peoples Health with regard to effects of EMF?
2. Lloyds of London have excluded insurance cover pertaining to EMF effects since 2004. Do ESB therefore have insurance to cover the adverse effects of EMF?
3. What will happen to landowners properties when ESB is eventually privatised? Will landowners sterile corridors get sold off as well? Is this why a landowners voluntary signature for a Deed of Easement is so important?
4. How much has the ESB/Eirgrid spent trying to force lines on the communities living along proposed routes-how many times over could they have buried the lines given the amount of money spent to date on compensation, the over head line materials and manpower?
5. What else does ESB/Eirgrid have in mind when they are trying so hard to force the overhead option through and not looking at any alternatives? Are they also hoping to place radio antennae and mobile phone dishes (to name but a few) on the pylons when they are built? (Pylons once built become a public structure and no further planning permission is required to places dishes or equipment on them)
6. Do the ESB intend to add other lines to these lines in future?
7. Is any consideration given to the loss of power in transmission - it is known that 6% is lost from overhead lines. This power loss would be eliminated by using underground cable such as HVDC the extra cost (four euro per year per household) would be recouped overtime with the saving on power loss plus the fact that 6% less would have to be generated in the first place. Saving on carbon emissions is vital in this day and age in Ireland especially as ESB/Eirgrid are the biggest carbon polluters in the country..with 12.6 millon tonnes carbon dioxide released annually into air by them.
8. How does ESB/Eirgrid propose dealing with landowners who refuse them access for overhead transmission and so refuse to sign the Deed of Easement i.e. those who want the underground option?
9. The constant use of creosote (a highly carcinogenic substance) on wooden poles all over Ireland is leaching into the ground and reaching our ground waters 24/7 365 days a year. The workers handling these poles are also at risk. When will the use of creosote stop?
10. Will ESB/Eirgrid compensate people for loss of value to their homes and properties?
11. Does the ESB/Eirgrid intend to compensate for visual intrusion and the cost to the tourism industry?
12. Is there any possibility that ESB/Eirgrid will tell the true facts about the reason for all the proposed Grid Projects? We know that their purpose is to take power out of areas and sell it on to the UK and Europe. This of course begs the question as to why we are paying for a transmission system that does not directly benefit the Irish population.
The following facts should have been taken into consideration by ESB regarding undergrounding the line: Over_v_under_2.pdf
What could have happened:
The lines could have been put underground. There would therefore not have been any delays and considerable costs would have been saved. The estimated cost of the line in 2001 was 36.8 million euro but the final cost was 92 million euro. The more direct route along the N4 would have shortened the distance considerably resulting in even greater savings. In this way the landscape would have remained in its pristine state;there would be no noise or crackling from overhead wires; there would be no adverse health effects;there would be no noise from the wind whistling through the pylons-in short we could live in peace.
ESB have already installed underground cables in Dublin City eg from Carrickmines to Shellybank - here the ESB successfully managed to bury the cables underground, under the beach (at Sandymount) and under water. A similar feat was achieved by ESB in Cobh, Co Cork in recent years where a High Voltage line was also placed underground and under water. ESB have also undergrounded HV lines in Bantry in Cork in 2007. The East West Interconnector between Ireland and Wales is now in place using the HVDC Light technology.The cable route length of the interconnector consists of 70kms cable underground and 186kms of seabed cable. The main reason for choosing HVDC Light cable was the distance involved, controllability and black start and active and reactive power support.