13
Aug
2008

Tractors spell out protesters' message

Sorry that this is a week late in getting to you and does not include the dramatic aerial photo of all those tractors which featured with the print article (page 3) in the August 5 edition of The Irish Times.

The Irish Times is now free online (//www.irishtimes.com ) and a severely cropped coloured image of the tractor protest is available there.

Best, Imelda, Cork


THE IRISH TIMES
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tractors spell out protesters' message


Yesterday's North East Pylon Pressure campaign tractor rally at Kilmainhamwood, Co Meath, where more than 1,100 farmers from Monaghan, Cavan and Meath stated their objection to the proposed Eirgrid North-South Interconnector development. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Photograph: The Irish Times
MARTIN RYAN

MORE THAN 1,000 tractors were used in a demonstration yesterday to protest against plans by EirGrid to build a power line corridor using pylons through the northeast of the country.

The North East Pylon Pressure campaign group organised an estimated 1,100 tractors to be driven to Kilmainhamwood, Co Meath, where they parked in formation to spell out the slogan "no pylons".

EirGrid, the State body responsible for power infrastructure, says the €200 million, 110km project is essential to secure future supplies of electricity to the region. There will also be an extra 30km of lines running from Co Tyrone operated by Northern Ireland Electricity forming the North-South interconnector.

The protesters object to the placing of the lines on pylons, and say if the lines can be placed underground in other countries, then the same should be done here.

Organising committee member Colin Andrew, who spoke at the demonstration, said there were "concerns over the possible health implications for living so close to these pylons, as well as the possible liability associated with having them on your land if problems develop in the future".

Mr Andrew said the sheer size of the pylons "would be a major blight on the countryside".

Farmer Noel McGarrell from Annayalla, near Castleblayney, was at the demonstration with his children, Martin (14) and Ciara (12). "I left this morning at about half-past nine on the tractor," he said. "We live about 50 miles away, but it is the health of the next generation I am concerned about."

Residents of Muff, Co Cavan, voiced concern about the proximity of the proposed pylons to the local primary school. Kieran Lynch said his daughter Holly (11) attended the school and his brother had three children there.

His wife Jackie said the school had only recently been renovated and "it would be a shame if a shadow was cast on all that good work". Their neighbour, Brendan Farrelly, said there were too many questions to be answered about health implications. "There was a time when they saw no problem with asbestos or cigarettes, so who knows what the future will bring."

Lady Sylvia Townley-Peeler from Bailieborough in Cavan said she had travelled the seven continents - a January trip to Antarctica completing the set - but had an abiding love of the Irish countryside, and exhorted all to "retain our unique beauty".

Michael Kelly of EirGrid said the lines would be vital in providing secure and high-quality electricity and helping to attract and retain industries in the area.

"No electricity line of this type and length has ever been placed underground worldwide and the proposal for overhead transmission lines is absolutely standard worldwide," he said.

He said an independent report by consultants appointed by the Government found that going underground would be far more expensive and would make fault repair far more laborious.

There are three routes being considered for the power lines and EirGrid is expected to apply to An Bord Pleanála for planning permission later in the year.

© 2008 The Irish Times

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times



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