Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Order of Business
I second the call made by Senator O'Neill for a debate on the Grid Link project that affects the south east, west, midlands and north east with the North-South interconnector. We need a constructive debate. The Adjournment debate on the matter, which was taken by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, was anything but productive. He was very party-political and defensive and did not deal with the issues at all. I have attended public meetings along the length of the route from Waterford to other locations. I attended a meeting last night in Stoneyford in County Kilkenny attended by around 600 people. Meetings are taking place in Meath and other counties tonight. There is cross-party support in opposition to these monstrosities - pylons 43 metres high with 15 sq. m. bases running along 1 km wide routes where no development can take place and where development is sterilised along the entire route.
The Leader knows that in the south east where there is high unemployment, tourism and agriculture, including food production, are two areas that are seen as critical for the economic development of the region. EirGrid plans to put these pylons through the heart of County Waterford, into County Kilkenny and potentially up into counties Kildare, Wicklow or Laois depending on the preferred route. There is very clear opposition to that and growing support for the underground option. EirGrid seems to be setting its face against any alternative and opting for the cheapest option rather than the best and most environmentally sustainable option, which is underground. New technologies are emerging all the time in this area. The reason I am looking for a debate is because we can have a constructive debate with the Minister about those alternative options because that is what we are elected to do.
The meetings we are attending involve people in communities who have real concerns. It is our job to bring these concerns directly to the Minister and I ask the Leader to arrange that debate at the earliest opportunity.