Eirgrid says it takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously in response to local concerns on the threat posed to a local water source in the area by substation works near Ratheniska.
The RTS Substation Group members say they are outraged that Laois County Council and the County Manager are refusing to meet the group in relation to the proposed substation at Coolnabacca, near Timahoe and Ratheniska.
“A year ago RTS group stopped the illegal development which was carried out by Eirgrid. There was no commencement notice, no Construction and Environmental Management Plan and none of the planning conditions had been discharged,” the RTS group said in a statement this week.
It also noted that the matter was condemned at the time by the three Dáil deputies who highlighted the seriousness of the matter in the Dáil with the line Minister Denis Naughten who also condemning Eirgrid’s behavior.
The group says the semi-state company Eirgrid were told by Minister Charlie Flanagan to ”pack up and not come back”, due to the breach of planning law.
“All Laois citizens should be hugely concerned by the manner in which Eirgrid were allowed to carry out this illegal work, in the full knowledge of Laois County Council,” the RTS Group said.
“We believe that Eirgrid and Laois County Council’s behavior is putting the future of our groundwater, water supply, environment and landscape in jeopardy. If this precious source of water is damaged, there is no alternative source of supply.
“How can the community trust Eirgrid to build a massive station for sixteen power lines, containing 500-600 tons of oil on top of the water supply for 8 to 10,000 people in Laois after what they have done before?” the group stated.
The group has called on Minister Denis Naughten, Minister Charlie Flanagan and deputies Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley – who sits on the committee with responsibility for Eirgrid – to request a full independent investigation into what has happened in this case and the treatment of the local community
In response, a statement from Eirgrid replied: “The statutory planning process is the appropriate forum in which all concerns are addressed and evaluated. A comprehensive planning application, including an Environmental Impact Statement, was submitted to An Bord Pleanála and an oral hearing was convened as part of the process.
“An Bord Pleanála considered all issues, including ground water, water supply, environment and landscape issues and ruled in favour of the project. An appeal against the An Bord Pleanála planning decision was subsequently dismissed by the High Court,” Eirgrid said.
The semi-state company stressed the importance of the project which it says will enhance the quality and security of electricity supply in Laois, Kilkenny, Carlow and Kildare.
“Consistent with industry arrangements, ESB Networks will soon begin preliminary construction works on the project. We look forward to working with landowners, the public and other stakeholders as the project develops over the coming months and years,” Eirgrid said.
Laois County Council did not respond to the issues raised by the RTS Substation Group.
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