The public by accepting the harsh austerity measures imposed on them in the past five years have earned the right to be consulted on all future major public expenditure projects. This is according to Independent MEP Marian Harkin in the context of the planned €3.2bn investment by EirGrid in a number of infrastructural projects across Ireland.

She said: “As the Irish people face into further erosion of their quality of life they have every right to be consulted on large scale capital expenditures that they will ultimately have to pay for.  For example, no independent justification has been produced to prioritise investment in the national electricity grid.  In a situation where demand for electricity will not meet originally made forecasts, and where cost of production will severely hamper the prospect of power exports, there must be absolute clarification on the need for the proposed expenditure of €3.2bn on electricity grid enhancement.”

The MEP continued: ”It is the consumer who will have to provide this funding and the least the public deserves before further  erosion of their incomes is a full cost benefit analysis to justify the proposed €3.2bn expenditure.  The time is past when the public have to accept the word of ‘experts’ on what is necessary investment in infrastructure.  The multibillion overrun in expenditure on the inter urban motorway project is an example of spending control by ‘experts’.  This must not be allowed to happen with the Grid 25 proposal and other projects that involve further cost impositions on the public.

“There may be a good case made for Grid 25 but having regard to the fact that it was devised with substantially different circumstances and prospects involved there is a need to review the project to establish its current relevance on a cost benefit basis. Accordingly I have written to Minister Pat Rabbitte proposing the initiation of an immediate study to ensure that already hard pressed citizens do not have a further €3.2bn burden imposed on them without full justification on a cost benefit basis,” Harkin MEP concluded.

Meanwhile the deadline for third phase of public consultation on the EirGrid Link Project is next Tuesday, 7 January at 5pm. Its project would see the construction of hundreds of kilometres of overhead power lines suspended by pylons throughout the south-east and the Midlands.

The current period of consultation has been under way since 3 September, when EirGrid published a report identifying possible corridor options for the pylons. Previously, the deadline for feedback and submissions was  26 November, but that has been extended.

Members of the public are encouraged to make submissions to the project team in the following ways:

By visiting the Grid Link Project information centres, view the route corridor maps and provide feedback to the project team; and/or

By sending a written submissions by post to The Grid Link Project Manager, EirGrid, PO Box 12213, Glenageary, Co Dublin or email [email protected]

Pictured Marian Harkin MEP