The decision by Eirgid to select the underground cable option for the North Connacht 110kV project which will run from Ballina to Ballaghaderreen was welcomed this week.
The Cathaoirleach of the Ballina Municipal District, Cllr Seamus Weir, who has been a long term advocate of the undergrounding of the project, an issue which saw him split from Fine Gael a number of years ago, welcomed the news at the March meeting of the district this week.
He said: "It has been a long battle and you all know where I stood on this, I left party politics over it. It's been a battle all the way, the people didn't want it overhead they stood their ground. First it was going to be a 400kV line and then dropped to 110kV, but it wasn't known would they want it to go overhead or underground. I want to acknowledge the community groups out there who stood up and fought this, they did a great job, " he said.
Cllr Weir also acknowledged the work done on this project on the last few years saying "They are a different group of people now than at the start and I have worked with them and met them a few times over the last few years and they have been great."
Fianna Fáil Cllr Annie May Reape echoed Cllr Weir's praise of the local groups who came together on this issue saying: "We have to praise the people who took the lead on this - it has showed Attymass at its best there."
While Cllr John O'Hara told the meeting he was delighted by the decision as the project is going to go right by his own front door in Bonniconlon, he said: "I'm delighted by the news, it was going by my doorstep one way or the other, it is really only small farmers out here, it would have been going through farmers land and splitting them up it is a small community and they didn’t need it."
Announcing the decision Eirgrid said in a statement this week: 'Following technical assessments and extensive local engagement, the project team has selected Corridor 2 from a shortlist of overhead and underground corridor options that were put forward for public consultation last year.
'Corridor 2 runs from Moy substation near Ballina along the west of the study area, passing Swinford before reaching Tonroe substation near Ballaghaderreen.
'The EirGrid project team evaluated four overhead line and three underground cable routes within a study area that stretched from Foxford in the west to Tubercurry in the east; and Ballina in the north to Ballaghaderreen in the south.
EirGrid spokesperson David Martin added: "Over the next few months, we will continue our analysis, undertake on-the-ground surveys and engage with local landowners and stakeholders to establish a specific cable route within that corridor. Once a route has been identified we will carry this forward to the planning process as the best performing option."
The project team has identified some challenges with routing the underground cable through or around Ballina, Swinford, and Ballaghaderreen, and crossing the River Moy, each of which will require additional assessments.
Incorporating a section of corridor 1 between Foxford and Ballina, in order to reduce disruption in Ballina, will also be considered.
Mr Martin added: "We ask all stakeholders to work with us to help deliver the North Connacht 110 kV project. When complete, it will help secure the supply of electricity in the area, supply the power and infrastructure industry seeks when setting up in any area, and aid Ireland’s attempts to meet our climate change targets."