EirGrid have insisted that it is not possible to cancel the pylons plan for Grid West, which bypasses Co. Roscommon, like it did for the Cork-Kildare route.
The semi-State company announced recently that the Grid Link (Cork-Kildare) had been scrapped.
Instead of a line of 40m high pylons being built to carry 400kV lines 220 km across the country, EirGrid will upgrade the existing network. Using a technology known as ‘series compensation’, this involves fitting devices to the existing network lines to enable more power to flow through existing line.
This news raised hopes locally that Grid West would also be abandoned.
There has been strong oppositition to a plan to build a line of pylons from Flagford, Carrick-on-Shannon, to Moygownagh, Co. Mayo, via rural areas of Boyle, Frenchpark and Ballaghaderreen.
EirGrid are currently weighing up whether to proceed with the overhead line, an underground option or a combination of both.
However, they have ruled out adopting the same format as Grid Link.
An EirGrid spokesperson said: “Series compensation is a technology that can only be used if there are existing high-voltage lines in place.
“It is applied to these existing lines to maximise their capacity. There are no high-voltage lines (220 or 400kV) in the West of Ireland. Therefore, it is not possible to use it in the west, as we have no infrastructure to use it on.”
However, some doubt does remain over Grid West due to An Bord Pleanála’s decision earlier this year to refuse planning permission for a large-scale wind farm at Bellacorick in Co. Mayo.
The decision is being appealed. EirGrid chief executive Fintan Slye said that the case for building the 100km Grid West line would change if the 112-turbine Oweninny wind farm was once again refused permission.
An Bord Pleanála are due to make a decision on the appeal later this year.