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Bury the Powerlines not the People
roscommon | environment | feature Wednesday December 14, 2005 01:07 by Terry - 1 of IMC room101ucg at yahoo dot co dot uk
In September I travelled to Boyle, Roscommon, to visit a community group which is opposing a 35 mile, 220 kv, 110 feet, ESB pylon line, in favour of an alternative which would put the powerlines underground. Hence the campaign slogan ‘Bury the Powerlines not the People’.
As Martina Roddy relates: “Well let’s see this was our fifth letter from the ESB, and three of them, including the one of the 14th of June, threatened us with the High Court if we didn’t grant access on the 21st of June, so basically through our solicitor we were informed that there was ESB personnel coming to our house to seek access. So the people of the group and friends and neighbours gathered at the house, and the ESB came to the door, asked for Michael, and were refused access. As I say we were threatened with a high court injunction on that day, and we refused them access and we will continue to refuse.”
The following article consists of two parts; an interview with Frank, community activist and organic farmer, and parts of a timeline presentation made by Martina Roddy for the 10th Grassroots Gathering.
So how did the campaign get started?
The whole thing started about five years ago, the first we heard was when we saw a big ad in the back of the local paper, the Roscommon Herald, saying that the ESB intended to bring a powerline from Carrick-on-Shannon to a place down in Sligo called Shrananagh and the landowners that were directly affected were written to, but everybody else was ignored.
A group was set up, a committee was formed, you had several groups along the line, you see it’s a 35 mile line, and therefore you wouldn’t know people from one end of it, and so different groups formed along the line.
How many objections were made in the Planning Process?
I’d say on the whole line maybe 10 to 12,000. They were basically all ignored. We asked a serious amount of questions to the County Manager, to the ESB. We asked what were the alternative routes. Those letters, were, to this day, never answered.
What are your health concerns with this development?
Most people are really worried about the health implications. More and more research has shown that living close to powerlines, or under them, or near them, is bad for your health to put it mildly.
How big, how high and how wide are these pylons and this pylon line to be?
The entire line will have about 200 pylons, they will range in height from 100 to 130 feet. They are fairly big structures. They are a new type of design called lattice towers. I believe they are the first of their type in the country.
How does that compare to other pylons?
They will be one of the biggest groups of pylons in the country.
They call this a ‘sterile corridor’, what does that mean in practise?
There is a strip of land, 30 metres each side of the line, which comes to about 200 feet in width in total, and that’s the entire line. It is called a ‘sterile corridor’ as if you sign the ‘deed of easement’ you are actually signing away your rights to that property to the ESB, that strip of ground they will have control of, for ever.
Adrian Leddy, the IFA (Irish Farmers Association) Regional Development Officer, commented on your campaign to the effect that “we don’t live in the Dark Ages”, the IFA also sent out letters claiming they had negotiated a “satisfactory outcome” to this dispute.
From day one every time we had a meeting, the IFA would have one contradicting what we had said. The IFA claim to represent farmers well if they do why didn’t they come to us on day one and say well what do you think of this.
This is the sort of stuff we have had to put up with for five years they have bullied and threatened people unbelievably.
Proposed Project: 220kv ESB Power line going from Carrick on Shannon (Co Leitrim) to Sooey in Co Sligo on 215 pylon towers with an average height of 110ft.
This project was started by ESB approx. 15 yrs ago when they made various attempts to go through other areas but much local opposition caused them to re-route the line in our direction in 1999-2000, where there is much afforestation and many elderly or single people living.
Timetable of events to date:
May 2000: landowners first informed of proposal and given maps of route of lines. No consultation with landowners or locals before maps drawn up.
Sept 2000: meeting between ESB officials and our local group, our feelings about plan clearly spelt out.
Oct 2001: Planning permission granted by the 3 Co Cos Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim.
Oct 2002: An Bord Plenala upheld Co Councils permission and ignored advise of Mr. Wall their inspector who deemed the EIS to be 70% inaccurate and advised permission should be refused.
June 2003: Complaint and Petition sent to Europe based on inadequate Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the ESBs failure to comply with many EU Directives like consultation with the locals involved. Nothing positive heard back, EU pointed out that EIS was done and the fact it was 70% inadequate appeared irrelevant. Matter still ongoing.
Nov 2003: first wayleaves issued to landowners who were notified of ESBs ‘intention to start work immediately but no later than Jan 04’.
March / April 2004: work began in Coillte lands and on farmers lands where permission to enter lands was given. IFA and ESBs reps began visiting landowners to gain either verbal/written consent to access lands. Many older farmers/single people particularly in Sligo section were talked around and gave in. IFA worked out ‘great deal’ for all landowners €11,250 per pylon and €11.50 per metre of line crossing over lands.
Oct 2004: we first received notification of thir intention to enter our lands, workers never showed up on date named by ESB after our solicitor pointed out strongly our opposition to plan.
Between Oct 2004 – June 2005 we received 5 letters from ESBs lawyer stating their intention to ‘enter our lands as a matter of urgency’ and 3 letters contained High Court Injunction threats which would take place ‘without further notice’ if we made any attempt to stop ESB personnel entering our private lands.
2nd Feb/1st June and 21st June 2005: We were visited by 2 ESB reps. On 21st June we refused access outright and a crowd of 50 –60 gathered outside our home to support our opposition to pylons. 2 ESB reps called to our door on June 21st, 2 ESB jeeps with approx. 8 workers parked about 70m down the rd and a digger was parked about a 1/2 mile away from house. 2 Gardai also waited outside our front gate at invitation of ESB.
July 4th : anti- pylon protest outside ESB premises in Sligo town about 50 attended. Much radio and newspaper coverage.
July 25th 2005 : National protest with approx. 150 people outside ESB HQ on Lower Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin. INN and Irish Times coverage as well as local stations and newspapers.
August 22nd 2005: Local protest outside ESB premises in Carrick on Shannon again much interest by local media.
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Comments (23 of 23)Jump To Comment: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Should the proposed development go ahead it will dominate the beautiful landscape vista before the Carrowkeel Neolithic cemetery (construction date circa 4,000 to 2,000 B.C.) . This is a place very much off the beaten track, barely sign posted and with no interpretative centre. It has never been subject to a proper scientific excavation. Obviously the reason to oppose this project has got to do with issues of health and safety and issues of who controls development rather than scenic beauty and/or the presence of some ruins. But for those of ye, who, like me, enjoy ruins and scenery here are some pictures.
(Note Carrowkeel is not to be confused with Carrowmore - which as at the other end of Sligo beside Sligo town).
These photos of various protest parts of the campaign were taken by Martina Roddy.
The protest outside ESB HQ Dublin 25th of July
Another one of Dublin
Friends and Neighbours outside Roddy Household, June 21st.
Protest in Carrick on Shannon, August 22nd.
Protest in Sligo, July 4th.
I suggest you go find your local Sinn Fein representative. While I am an American, I know that Sinn Fein is only organisation with the guts and moral directive to stand up on your behalf. I wish we had more people like them in America!
"...a near doubling of childhood leukaemia within 200 metres of high voltage power lines and some increase as far as 600 metres. Leukaemia kills more children in the UK than any other disease and is on the increase."
Links to various research papers on the health implications of power lines:
(Rural England Versus Overhead Line Transmission)
"We lived directly under the power lines and the pylon stands in my garden. With all the evidence which is coming out suggesting serious health risks linked to overhead power lines I believe now that my husband’s cancer was triggered off by the effects from the 132kv (132,000volts)-power line."
"They believe the sinister 132,000 volt mast that towers over their cluster of 28 council houses has killed off 23 victims through heart illness and cancer. The number of cancer victims on the small estate is FIVE times the local average. And residents also link the pylon to depression, headaches and memory loss. Now after having their fears ignored for years, a Government report next month is expected to admit for the first time that pylons ARE a health hazard."
Is a very fickle structure. It appears to be very easily swayed by inside political pressure. In both this case and the Rossport5 the recommendations of the competent and mandated inspectors have been ignored in favour of unspecified reasons by the board. Not very reassuring. The public would do well to back up the honest civil servants doing their duty that are over-ridden by politicians and high-rollers in the organisation.
The campaign against the trans-Pyrennes high tension lines has been going since September 2004 and has increasingly picked up support in the last months.
Called "MAT" in catalan and castellano the same concept is called "THT" in french. Ecologist groups on both sides of the Pyrennes are fighting stop high tension lines, arguing just as their peers in Roscommon for safer, underground cables instead.
They have in the course of their campaign exposed the very powerful EU electricity production lobby, who are (unsurprisingly) cutting costs. There are many reasons for this, the underlying disregard for human health, the environment and ethical transparent development which are hallmarks of the age we live in where essential services are now subject more to capitalist forces, and the profit margin of the shareholder is placed before the cost to the consumer or the damage done in service delivery to the environment.
Here is the page of the "No to MAT!" in Catalan, sorry but there is no english translation (yet) but on the right hand side of the screen you get an idea of the scope of research work done
http://www.actiu.net/noalamat/ and here is the umbrella site on the French side of the frontier (no english either) but I reckon there are more Roscommonians who read french ;-) http://www.collectif-nonalatht.com/
Here is also another link in english which might interest readers on the scientific evidence of health risks associated with High Tension Pylons.-
It is important for researchers in Ireland to note that the Swedish state has recognised since 2000 "electromagnetic hypersensitivity" (EHS) and alculates that 3.1% of Swedes – 200,000 people – suffer from the condition.
If you (in Roscommon) need help translating any material - contact me. Best of luck.
Asked how many objections
"I’d say on the whole line maybe 10 to 12,000."
Seriously 12,000 individual objections? Or is that 12,000 names on one objection?
The report seems to contradict itself in saying the ESB need a deed of something and then referring to them trying to access someone's land without their consent?
Part of the trouble with going underground is that it is not accessible to repair and would affect the ability of someone to do tillage, or ploughing on their land so it would make no difference to them in practical terms as to whether the lines were on pylons or in the ground. As for those close to the lines, how close do you deem people be affected? 30m, or 300m?
But Standing directly below a 400 kilovolt power line might expose a person to levels as high as 40 microteslas, and international regulations are that a person may not be exposed to 1000 microteslas over a 24 hour period as of 2004 previously the limit was set at 1600 microteslas. Spring 2004 the UK's National Radiological Protection Board found those exposed to long-term electromagnetic radiation levels above 0.4 microtesla are at double the risk of childhood leukaemia but that was the easiest "ill health" to judge being a pretty horrible pathology to have.
Most studies on such radiation also bring in mobile telephone masts and receivers, the last international rulings of 2000 setting clear guidelines on the reduction of handset power. The realisation that radiation of such a variety posed health risks, or was associated with pathogenic processes such as tumor building and cancer came from the increased marketing of mobile phones. You could almost say the tinfoil hat brigade learnt that the pylons their forebears raised were fecking dangerous once the SMS message kicked off. In 2000 thus, both governments and industries which "do electrical things" decided to _reduce_ both output of microteslas and teh range of radiation emitted from 50hertz (a pylon) to 300 gigahertz (a mobile)
I rather presume that all campaigns against high Tension pylons touched on in this article and comments count on excellent research data on this topic, and I doubt anyone is saying "These things are well dangerous" & not being contradicted convincingly by independent authorities. But if any more is needed in Ireland by the casual reader then : the people one really ought study are the workers in Garda Siochana stations, since it was they (the Gardaí) who saw erected on their little roofs a the highest concentration of differing antenna (to support their own communications and mobile phones and tv and not "spoil the landscape") in europe over their heads. Find a local Garda, ask him or her are they exposed to more than 4 microteslas a shift, what frequency Hertz range they work in, and if they get headaches or have noticed any impaired judgement.
We fully support the people of Roscommon, Sligo and everywhere else in Ireland and in Europe where multi-national corporations want to destroy the landscape and the people in it for monetary gain -
IS THERE NO VISION with these people?
It is time to form a Europe wide lobby -
comments to email@example.com
'ni aquí ni enlloc - Stad na piolóní!'
People queried whether there are 12,000 objectors to the pylons in the North and West of Ireland?
In 2000 the ESB attempted to plough through 1000 Donegal Townlands (a Townland is a division of land from an acre to several thousand - there are 60,000 Townlands in Ireland of which there are 2000 in Donegal alone) - During that campaign Alternatives to Pylons Donegal gathered objections from 1500 landowners in County Donegal, not to mention the 10,000 from Donegal living outside of the County and abroad who do not want to see the unique Donegal landscape laid waste.
We have 10,000 email addresses of objectors to the ESB's proposals in Donegal alone so, together with objectors from other Irish counties, there are easily 12,000 objectors to the ESB proposals.
The fact is Donegal has more than enough Electricity for its needs - Letterkenny and Killybegs need reinforcement but there are alternatives to 100km of overground pylons to suppliment these towns.
The ESB have to come clean and admit that they are trying to increase the value of their assets before they sell off the company and that they are targeting windfarm developers and telcos with these proposed lines.
'Ni aquí ni enlloc - Stad na piolóní!'
I have read this article with great interest, and its follow-up information regarding the health concerns of "power lines".
Having looked thro all the facts, my sympathy lies with all those trying to preserve the asthetics of the area rather than any specific health risk. Some of the photos make the area look beautifull, and i can see no reason why these lines cannot go underground.
I have a lot of knowledge in the area of EMF, electricity, magnetism and all other forms of electro-magnetic science. There are safe levels and unsafe levels across the whole range, and remember of course that all light is itself electromagnetic radiation, and we are constantly and throughout our evolution being bombarded 24hrs a day with the full range emmitting from the sun. All radio, modile phones, microwaves etc are just manipulations of naturely accuring waves for our benifit.
Are any of the reports scientific?, as ragards to what i saw as "statistical", which is not regarded as science. Can you point me in direction of one which investigates the levels emmitted by power lines, and then tests this for and health effects???
it could be interesting to increase the information net about the energetic problem.
the association "No a la MAT" (no to V.H.T.) which is refered, is a collective group of associations against the Very High Tension (V.H.T.) line that french ans spanish governments want to make cross the Pirenaic mountains through the 66 french department and the Girona province, and after connect the spanish electric net by Gibraltar.
Based on the proposed route which follows the most illogical route for a Carrack to Sligo feeder and yes more power is needed in Sligo. The only sensible solution is that this "power line" is a yet another example of the ESB once QUANGO - sorry semi-state body now big fat (get rich quick) multinational - yes multinational up to it's sinister tricks. A big bold land grab and at the same time setting up potential microwave pollution sites a.k. cellphone aerials on the power towers or pylons. In a country where even the top politician is highly suspect this looks like FF business as usual. Rats very rarly change their feeding habits!
just a few points in reply to comment by blue bear;first re; sligo needs power,this is not true.Sligo uses 47 megawats of power,this can be delivered by one 110Kv line.There are at least three 110Kv lines going into sligo,all running under capacity.Also,the proposed line does not actually go to sligo but to Ballysummanagh which is eight miles from sligo town.The line really goes past sligo and on to Donegal and up to Coolkeera at Derry.So "sligo needs power" is just a story from Dr Spin,ESB.
Next,re "land grab"; i agree with you,it IS a land grab and a very big land grab at that.The sterile corridore associated with this line would be 200 feet wide.The line itself would be 35 miles long(if they could get it built) this equates to approx 840 acres of a sterile corridore.If and i repeat IF the esb paid compensation as they should i.e. as laid down by 1985 amendement of 1927 act and not according to IFA crap,they would have to pay compensation under the heading "general devaluation" at a rate determined by the average price paid for agricultural land in the area.This is now 20,000 euro per acre x 840 acres it comes in at about 17 million euro.This does not take into account,injurious affection,(another heading that compensation is payable under) also compensation for devaluation of remainder of farm,devaluation of value of farmhouses,loss of potential house sites,buildingsites or development potential of the farm.The list goes on,BUT its covered up by esb aided and abetted by the IFA,the very organisation who purport to represent farmers.
Please let people be aware of their rights and remember that in a Supreme court hearing in 1985 (Gormley v ESB ) the ruling was that the "1927 Act was unconstitutional".
BEWARE OF OVERHEAD POWERLINES (as stated by esb themselves) Why dont they practice what they preach?
yes its about time this whole issue was opened up. why should the great Government backed monopoly have the power to take peoples lands away from them. The answer is they DONT, but they will claim they have that power. The 1927 Act really only gives the ESB the power to put the
smaller type electricity poles in your back yard (for which they charge a nice tidy sum - I wonder can they legally charge people an installation fee and then continue to charge you a standing charge and a PSO levy on top?) Surely they should bear the cost ot installation themselves as without the installation one 'd have no electricity and so on.. what Im getting at is the ESB are charging us on the double and no one questions them, its a bit like a shopkeeper charging you to actually go into his shop. The ESB are a MONOPOLY and can do what they like ---so they think, NOT for much longer.
ALOT of people see the light. Eircom are now ringing up ex.customers and begging them to come back to them...the same day will come for the ESB. They'll do their best to 'grab' as much land as they can b4 that day...the day of privatisation....then sell off peoples private land. NO WAY
Has anyone ever seen figures from the ESB / Eirgrid re cost of an overhead or an underground powerline? If you look at a website , www.abb.com ,you will read about the cost of major projects worldwide done by ABB and the costs for underground quoted are similar (if not cheaper) than ESBs cost for overhead. I read of cases where esb say theese lines cost"ten times more "underground. This is not true,in fact it is a lie. It is time somebody took the ESB /Eirgrid up on this "cost" issue.
i dont think you will ever have seen figures published by esb up to now and i think you wont until some one or some group looks for an order for discovery in the high court,that would soon light a fire under theese "above the law" people who strut around this country with convoys of yellow tanks and take over the place.keep back,the esb have arrived.they seem to think they own the place. There is a major problem for esb now that the whole country seems to have coped on at last.It is good to see groups of people standing up for themselves and letting esb know that people have rights.There was a group in Cork who taught esb a very dear lesson.There is a very big group in the meath cavan area too.the days of overhead powerlines is over and not before time.the website ABB is really interesting and as the last person stated its high time we got accountability from esb,after all who picks up the bill at the end of the day?
Come on ESB lets face it you ve lost the battles, Just bury the lines and be done with it.
I did a bit of research in electromagnetism and while it has been suggested that electromagnetic fields from power lines increase rate of leukemia, it also surprisingly decreses the risk of CNS/Brain tumours. Furthermore, at distances beyond 200m the effect becomes negligable/irrelevant because the field strength is equal to background levels. In built up areas this distance decreases due to other sources of EMFs(electromagnetic fields). Coupled with this is conflicting eveidence from different studies, plus the nature of fields is determined by the frequency AND amplitude where different combinations may have different effects. If you want an analogy, the frequancy of a tone may break glass, but a different frequncy, no matter what the amplitude will not.
These are but few of the issues fuelling the controversy surrounding power lines. I'm not sure of the insulating properties of earth against EMFs, but there is some evidence suggesting that power lines actually increase growth rates of crops (I read somewhere that Cuba runs power lines through crops on purpouse as well).
Seems to me that burying would allay fears of locals and preserve natural beauty (although I suspect a lot of people here are against large scale digging in areas of unknown archaeological value). The issue ESB are dealing with is probably actuaries, who calculate the cost savings of building and maintaining powerlines overground in relation to possible payouts in court cases and increased costs of labour and materials. And in rural areas, the cost of paying out for a few kids who got leukemia is probably a lot less than burying power lines. And if people in cities can live with multiple frequenies of power at different magnitudes, they probably feel pretty safe on a large scale lawsuit.
a very good indication of a problem or a problem around the corner or an "emerging hazzard" as one company described EMF/overhead lines,is when an insurance company washes its hands of something. The company ,in this case,FBD, have in place an EMF exclusion on all policies regarding EMF "howsoever caused or generated". That says it all.They know there is a problem and they have covered themselves by placing an exclusion on all policies since about 2004.Lloyds of London have this exclusion in place since 2003.
Regarding emf and underground cables; i have looked closely at a cross section of an underground cable,(high voltage) the type XLPE which is cross linked polyethelene. The centre is copper,copper is used as its one of the best conducters of electricity.Then you find the polyethelene,this type of modern cable replaced the sort used in days gone by ,BICC used oil cooled cable but thats not used anymore.
Outside the polyethelene is a strip of lead which is about half inch wide and outside that is wrapping.All of this is placed in the ground maybe six feet deep and bedded in sand and covered then with clay etc.
Compare this to an overhead line of same voltage,with no covering whatsoever.If anybody tells me that an underground cable is NOT safe and an overhead line IS safe,or that there may be EMF from an underground cable and none from overhead,? Give me a break!
It is a well known fact that there is such thing as "power loss" from overhead lines. This loss goes from 5 to 7% depending on voltage. As a powerline gets older the power loss can rise to 21%.
The saving on generation alone by using underground cable would solve CO2 emission problems as well as all the problems associated with overhead transmission lines including the "power loss".
The cost of maintainance on an underground cable is practically nill while cost of maintaince on overhead high voltage lines can run to 1000 euro per KM per year,especially when helicopter hire is included. The life span of underground cable is at least twice that of overhead and the components of underground cable can all be recycled into new cable if necessary.One KM of XLPE cable contains up to 25 tons of copper.The recycle price for this is substantial.
As recent as 23 May 2008 representatives from a major international company, IMERA and also from ABB,a company which manufacture underground cable and install same, told the Dail and Seanad Committee that " there would be only a marginal difference in cost in putting cables underground".
Was very difficult fo follow Mr Mans comments earlier (wonder if hes from ESB they also tell us living close to HV lines is no danger whatsoever - when theyre asked to put it in writing and sign their names to it -thats a different story) They refuse to provide proper assurances and insurances to people - they leave the poor foolish landowner who sees the 'quick buck' to take on the responsibility!! Pay him/her off nice and quietly - answer no questions and off they go leaving their lovely big pylons behind them. As if thats not enough the poor foolish landowner is now even poorer as he has signed a large portion of his/her land over to ESB for their use and benefit...200 feet or even more of his/her land has become a sterile corridor. The clever (foolish) land owner can only graze the grass or cut the hay off this ground.....never again can he build a house or shed on it and never again attempt to grow a treein this sterile corridor under the HV lines and up to 100ft either side. (THATS A FACT) if he/she wishes to spread slurry on this ground s/he may have to get permission off his /her masters ESB- as they too have full rights to this portion of land...now isnt that really hailarious???ESB need the signature and have no way of getting it ..
After going through the recent report on high voltage powerlines it appears the esb has switched from "ten times more expensive" to "ten times more likely to have power outage". Pity it took so many years to get the message across to esb that it DOES NOT COST TEN TIMES MORE UNDERGROUND. Now we have to start all over again explaining that there will not be TEN TIMES MORE OUTAGES by using underground cables.
Almost half the population of this country live in Dublin,they are supplied with power from underground cables.Likewise a lot of industry is supplied the same way.Most houses around the country now have the last section of powerline underground coming to their houses.A lot of the towns and villages around the country also have the powerlines put underground.Do they all have TEN TIMES MORe OUTAGES? Of course not. Do underground cables get damaged from time to time? Yes they do but it does not take a month to find and repair the fault. Now think about all the times people,especially in rural areas are left without power ,sometimes for days,when overhead lines get damaged in storms.
Hospitals,banks,garages supermarkets and places like that,all have standby generators in case of powercuts,its a requirement for insurance purposes.The ammount of rubbish being put out by esb is something else.The "report" which was supposed to be a STUDY is another waste of taxpayers money.They didnt even bother to use examples of "actual" cases of where cables are being used underground.