Friday, September 17, 2021

Members of the Ratheniska community protest at the ESB/EirGrid 400kV sub-power station site at Coolnabacky recently, which was organised by the Ratheniska-Timahoe-Spink (RTS) Substation Action Group, to demonstrate their continuing resistance to the project being located in their area.
Photo: Alf Harvey

By Joe Barrett

Councillors in the Portlaoise Municipal District Council failed to nominate a representative to take their place on the newly established Laois Kilkenny Reinforcement Community Forum which was established by ESB Networks and Eirgrid.

The matter for a nomination onto the forum was before the recent meeting of the district council.

Acting Area manager Paul McLoughlin told the meeting that Irish Rural Link is overseeing the Community Forum and was asking for a public representative from Portlaoise and from the Graiguecullen Portarlington-Municipal District to take a seat on the forum.

Cllr Willie Aird proposed that his party colleague Mary Sweeney (who was not present at the meeting) for the position.

I think we should ask Mary first,” said cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley.

Cllr Thomasina Connell proposed that the issue of the nomination be postponed until the district’s council October meeting.

Cllr Aird agreed, “ to see if she will take it.”

It’s not a statutory body (Forum). We don’t have to take it,” asked cllr Dwane Stanley?

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald asked: “Is it funding from Eirgrid?”

Mr McLoughlin said: “It’s about community gain. They (Irish Rural Link) are asking for a public representative from the two areas.”

Councillors agreed to defer making a decision until next month’s meeting.

EirGrid is proposing to reinforce the network in the general Laois-Kilkenny region. We plan to achieve this through the development of a new transmission line between the two counties.

The proposed infrastructure will consist of the following items:

  • A new 400/110 kV substation situated to the south east of Portlaoise, at Coolnabacky. Two existing overhead lines will connect to this new substation. These are the 400 kV Moneypoint-Dunstown line and the 110 kV Athy-Portlaoise line.

  • A new 110/38 kV substation. This will be located next to the existing 38 kV electricity substation at Ballyragget, County Kilkenny.

  • A new 110 kV line between these two new stations.

  • An upgrade to the existing Ballyragget – Kilkenny overhead line to a 110 kV standard.

  • A modification to the existing Athy-Portlaoise 110 kV line and works in Kilkenny station.

In a statement last December EirGrid and ESB Networks confirmed that they will establish a voluntary community forum early in the new year, as recommended by Irish Rural Link in its independent evaluation of the Laois Kilkenny Reinforcement Project in October 2019.

They said: “In recognition of the importance of working closely with communities, EirGrid will launch a project Community Fund in 2021. It is intended that the voluntary community forum will, through its civic, social and political representatives, provide input into the administration of the fund. The forum will also receive regular updates on the construction programme from ESB Networks.

The establishment of a community forum was one of the key recommendations from Irish Rural Link, an independent organisation commissioned by ESB Networks to assess current community understanding of the project.

EirGrid’s community fund recognises the importance of the local communities in the development of the electricity grid. The fund is in proportion to the scale of a project.

The overall fund for the Laois-Kilkenny Reinforcement Project is approximately €500,000. When allocating the fund consideration will be given to the amount of new infrastructure in each county.”

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