The stand off over the Grid West project looks set to intensify with members of the Moy Valley Protection Group now vowing they will fight it all the way, regardless of whether or not the proposed high capacity power lines are sunk underground.
The Moy Valley Protection Group represents six communities along the initial proposed overhead route for 400kv power lines and pylons stretching from Moygownagh in north Mayo to Flagford in Roscommon.
Following considerable community opposition to the proposed overhead power line route for the huge infrastructural upgrade to the electrical grid, Eirgrid announced this week that it is now also considering a new, underground, option.
However, Martin Daly, PRO of the Moy Valley Protection Group, has labelled the entire Grid West project as “not feasible” in any shape or form.
Mr Daly says the project is part of the development of industrial scale windfarms with hundreds of turbines blighting large swathes of rural Mayo.
“It is a white elephant that isn’t feasible and that comes at a terrible cost,” Mr Daly told the Advertiser this week.
“Once you scrutinise this, as we have done with independent energy consultants, you can see it’s just an outragous proposal.
“It’s not carbon neutral, there’s huge amounts of land involved, the energy is too expensive and it is not employment intensive - it is ticking all the wrong boxes.”
The Moy Valley Protection Group is instead calling for a more balanced renewable energy strategy, which is not as intensively focussed on wind energy development.
Independent councillor Seamus Weir, who earlier this year quit the Fine Gael party because of the Government’s policy on the project, issued a cautious welcome for the new underground option.
“I welcome this but I do hope they are seriously considering the underground option, even if it is more costly,” he said.
Cllr Weir will be calling a public meeting in the coming weeks to gauge the community’s reaction to the new underground option.
Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherrin also welcomed the publication of the underground routes.
“Clearly, the way this work is being undertaken, it is no remote desk top exercise,” said Deputy Mulherin. “A potential actual route for an underground cable has been identified to fairly compare it with overhead power line plans.”