Independent TD Mattie McGrath has expressed his scepticism around Eirgrid’s commitment to initiate a more authentic process of public consultation for its controversial Grid link project. Deputy McGrath made his comments after Eirgrid acknowledged that previous consultation processes failed to satisfactorily address outstanding issues of public concern:
“Given the experience I and many other public representatives have had with Eirgrid to date, I would be less than optimistic that this new community based approach that is being touted by them will amount to much more than a PR smokescreen.
It has to be remembered that Eirgrid for most of of the last two years resisted the enormous levels of public anger over the Grid Link and Grid West Projects.
It refuted alternative technical suggestions for the over-head pylon route as unworkable and then admitted they had merit. All of this only occurred after sustained public pressure and days of questioning before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications in December 2013.
I was present for Eirgrid’s contributions and they were nothing but a master class in evasive and deliberately confusing technical jargon.
I believe it is no accident that this sudden conversion to a more transparent community based approach is happening against the backdrop of the Irish water farce.
Eirgrid has clearly seen that the public’s tolerance for rolling out massive utility projects in the absence of a clear cost/benefit analysis is at an all-time low.
I believe this has led them to drastically reconsider the kind of dismissive and arrogant approach that was adopted for all of 2013 and most of this year.
Whether that fundamental change will amount to anything more than an exercise in smoke and mirrors we will have to wait and see; but given the history to date it does not look likely,” concluded Deputy McGrath.