AgriLand caught up with Irish Farmers Association (IFA) deputy presidential candidates earlier today and discussed today’s topical news, EirGrid’s multinational Grid 25 project, which came under the spotlight this morning at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Transport and Communication. Many rural community groups from across the country expressed strong concerns of its plans.  

They should go underground. Farmers don’t want them on their lands – Kavanagh

IFA deputy presidential candidate New Ross farmer JJ Kavanagh has told AgriLand EirGid should put its lines underground and not use pylons as is currently the plan.

“We are getting it very strong on the doorstep and we have to listen to the people,” he added. “Farmers are raising concerns in terms of property devaluation, health, visual disruption and tourism.

“It is a very serious issue throughout the country. We have to listen to the people and they want it put underground. There is a lot of consultation to happen yet and EirGrid will have to step up to the plate and listen to the people.”

He continued: “The line could be going through my own farm yet depending on which way the route goes. All my neighbours are very concerned about as am I. There is a lot of disruption with undergrounding also but, at least it’s over with then. Whereas pylons will be around for generations.”

The Wexford candidate has served four years as national treasurer and he has his own suckler herd producing beef cattle, besides having some sheep and tillage.

The IFA are there to protect the farmers – Tim O Leary

IFA deputy presidential candidate Cork Central farm business rep Tim O Leary also stressed to AgriLand that EirGrid needs to address the concerns of people in regard to its plans.

“My position is we support the farmers. It’s not our job to get involved in community issues. The IFA are there to protect the farmers. An important point to make is that there has been no full costing for putting the lines underground. EirGrid are duty bound to put a balanced view of its plans out there. It has not done a full costing of undergrounding the lines,” he claimed.

“Eirgrid needs to come out and address the concerns of farmers and the community. It has been holding information meetings where they tell people what’s happing but what we need are consultation meetings that take the concerns of farmers and the community on board.”

O’Leary also noted: “If these lines are being put in place to service the needs of the Irish people, economy and workforce that’s one thing. However if the lines are to be used to export energy for the benefit of private companies in other countries that’s another scenario altogether.”

“There is real concern about this in the areas that’s affected,” he added.

O’Leary is a Cork farmer and central farm business rep.

Eirgrid is expected to make a presentation on its plans to the Oireachtas Committee on its Grid 25 project on the 4 December.