The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is encouraging its members to make submission on the proposed EirGrid project as the consultation deadline approaches.

The EirGrid 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 was extended to tomorrow, 7 January.

It was also announced at the weekend that EirGrid is expected to delay choosing a final route for its controversial Grid Link project until after the local elections in May.

In a submission to EirGrid, the IFA outlined its specific concerns and recommendations.

“The dispersed pattern of population settlement in Ireland is unique among EU member states. This settlement pattern is inherent to the definition of community where farmers and non-farmers live side by side, defining the rural concept. In such dispersed settlement patterns it is necessary to consider whether the building of 400kV transmission lines with their unique environmental, economic and farming impacts is an appropriate model for electricity transmission,” the report noted.

“Pylons have a negative visual impact on the landscape and represent what many members believe to be a scar on the countryside. In addition the close proximity of these pylons to family homes and farmyards and the droning noise from the wires are a cause of particular concern. Farmers are also concerned regarding the negative impact on farm management practices. Given these concerns the association is calling for the undergrounding of the project to be part of the planning and route design process.”

In addition, the IFA stress consultation with local communities needs much improvement.

“The present consultation framework with landowners and local communities is unsatisfactory. Many farm families who may not end up being part of the final route selection are being unnecessarily imposed on with the consequence that those affected are not given a proper hearing. EirGrid must focus the consultation by coming forward with the preferred route for the project as soon as possible. This will allow direct discussions to take place with those that may actually be impacted by the project and their concerns can be addressed.”

In addition, the IFA is seeking clear infrastructure contracts.

“The IFA has an established record of representing landowners impacted by infrastructure projects, whether road developments, underground gas pipeline projects with Bord Gais Eireann or other infrastructure development types. No package of measures are currently in place with EirGrid regarding this proposed project. The association will however seek to secure a comprehensive package of measures that protect the interests of its members,” it added.

Submissions to the EirGrid project team can be made by: visiting the Grid Link Project information centres, view the route corridor maps and provide feedback to the project team; and/or sending a written submissions by post to The Grid Link Project Manager, EirGrid, PO Box 12213, Glenageary, Co Dublin or email [email protected].