A BLOCKADE by protestors of the EirGrid sub-power station at Coolnabacca has begun. The activists allege that they have been threatened with the same kind of treatment that was meted out to the people of Ballinaboy during the infamous Shell to Sea campaign in Co Mayo.
Up to 50 people gathered at the entrance to the site – which is located just off the Portlaoise to Timahoe Road – from 7am yesterday (Monday) morning following an agreement to do so at a public meeting last Thursday night.
The protestors have lodged objections with An Bord Pleanála (ABP), in the High Court and with the United Nations over their concerns surrounding the development.
One of the group’s main concerns centres on the location of the development, which they claim is sited over an important aquifer that supplies water to more than 8,000 homes in Laois, stretching from Portlaoise to Graiguecullen.
Speaking from the blockade, spokesperson for the Ratheniska-Timahoe-Spink Substation Action Group (RTS) Colm Fingleton said: “We’re not going to leave until we get a result here. We’re stopping this project one way or another.
Mr Fingleton complained bitterly that only two county councillors – Ben Brennan and Pádraig Fleming – stood with the local people yesterday morning.
He said: “We are not going away. We are not going to be threatened by legal teams or by anybody else again. We’re going to ramp this up and put more pressure on council officials.
Replying, a spokesperson for EirGrid said: “As part of our planning application, we thoroughly assessed the potential impacts on water arising from the Laois Kilkenny Project. The assessment was carried out according to guidelines specified by the EPA and included a review of all necessary site-investigation reports, water-related guidance, policy documents, legislation and databases.
“We can assure residents in the area that there is no threat to the water supply. This is supported by the ABP, which held a lengthy oral hearing into the project in Portlaoise in 2013.
“The ABP inspector’s report stated that the development could be carried out and operated satisfactorily from an ecological standpoint.
The spokesperson: “It is my view that having regard to the construction methods envisaged and the proposed mitigation measures, that the risk of contamination of any wells in the locality is negligible.”