The newly designed pylons set to run 135km from Meath to Tyrone through Cavan and Monaghan.

‘They won’t bulldoze through us’ - protestors

CHANGE Eirgrid reduces height of pylons by up to five metres

A change to the design of the pylons set to carry the controversial North South Interconnector lines across Meath, Cavan and Monaghan has done little to placate those living in the shadow of the route.

Eirgrid confirmed it has altered the size and shape of the pylons set to carry the 135km line from Meath to Tyrone. The smallest of them will now be 24 metres tall (previously 27m) while the tallest will stand at 37 metres in height (previously 43m).

The footprint range of the pylons meanwhile will increase from a range of 6.4m x 6.4m - 11m x 11m to 7.4m x 7.4m - 12m x 12m.

Eirgrid says the new structures will “use less steel and is more transparent in the landscape”.

In relation to the cost of same, a spokesperson said: “The original cost of constructing the interconnector was €286 million. On top of that, there are costs incurred by EirGrid and SONI (Systems Operator for Northern Ireland) in Northern Ireland. These costs have undoubtedly increased in the intervening years but no figure is available.”

Despite the proposed change in structure, Pat Farrelly of North East Pylon Pressure (NEPP) insists the pylons must go underground.

“Nothing has changed”, the Muff native said. “We don’t care about any of the changes they’ve made, the only way that we’re happy for this to go ahead is if it’s put underground. Eirgrid are trying to plámás us with these changes.”

Mr Farrelly also disputes claims by Eirgrid that it is too expensive to put the cables underground.

“This has been going on for over 15 years. It should have been finished up a long time ago. If they had put them in when it was originally meant to be done, it would have been much cheaper.

“They can be put underground. The price of compensation, the impact on the landscape and the knock-on effect on tourism will mean that it is going to be more expensive to put them overhead. It is cheaper to put them underground, everyone knows this, but Eirgrid keeps showing us a survey from 2009 that is out of date,” claimed Mr Farrelly.

His comments contrast with the findings of a review of the North South Interconnector line, published late last month. The latest report accepts the findings of previous reports including one by the 2018 Expert Commission, which indicated that the project should proceed as an overhead line.

Mr Farrelly told the Celt that the communities of the affected areas remain united in ensuring that the pylons are not erected.

“We are 100% united against them. Eirgrid needs to realise this. If they think they are going to come in and walk on top of us, then they should know that they are going to come up against a lot of issues. It’s the same everywhere, not just in Muff but all the way along the line, from Meath, Cavan, and Monaghan. They won’t bulldoze through us.”

He also criticised Eigrid for what he feels is a lack of communication with communities potentially affected by the powerlines.

“We’ve had virtually no communication from them. They’ve had a communications office in Carrickmacross for the last few years, but they’ve been closed. It’s the same old story. They’re trying to take us for fools, but we’re not buying it. They can’t go against everyone,” contended Mr Farrelly.

Eirgrid has at all stages said that the interconnector is “critical” for the security of electricity supply across the island of Ireland; to support growth in the Northeast region; and to enable Ireland to reach its renewable energy targets.

Full planning permission has been secured for the project in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Eirgrid has said it will “liaise closely” with all stakeholders and there will be “full engagement with landowners, local communities and stakeholders along the route as we proceed with the project”.