Prolonged power outages in Rooskey spark calls for stricter forestry management

Recent power outages in and around Rooskey village have brought to light ongoing issues with local forestry management, sparking widespread frustration among residents.

The situation, which has left numerous homes and businesses without electricity regularly over recent months, was a focal point during a recent public meeting attended by over 100 residents.

According to meeting organisers: “… recurring outages have worsened in recent years, and particularly in recent months, affecting parts of the village of Rooskey, including nine housing estates, as well as rural areas such as Knockhall, Slatta, Kilglass, and surrounding communities”.

Sinn Féin local election candidate for the Boyle LEA, Rory Williams Doyle, emphasised the need for stricter enforcement of forestry corridors near power lines. This call to action comes in response to recurring power disruptions that have significantly impacted the community, including one incident where a resident reported thousands of euro in damage due to electrical surges.

“Given further outages today (Monday), which I know has seriously impacted upon the people of Rooskey, this situation must urgently be addressed. This is meant to be 21st century Ireland,” stated Williams Doyle.

The meeting highlighted issues with private foresters allegedly not maintaining the required 20-metre setback from power lines, a regulation enforced since the Planning and Development Regulations of 2008.

Meanwhile, Councillor Tom Crosby, who has been actively involved in addressing the community’s concerns, relayed updates from the Electricity Supply Board (ESB).

Following severe weather conditions, fallen trees in the Lavagh forestry significantly disrupted power, affecting around 50 customers. Efforts are underway to clear the forestry and prevent future incidents, with ESB Area Manager for Athlone and Longford, Pat Nugent, affirming their commitment to remedial actions.

The ESB has scheduled meetings with forestry owners to formulate a plan to address the recurring issues. These meetings aim to enhance collaboration between the ESB, local authorities, and forestry owners to mitigate the risks associated with poorly maintained tree lines near power infrastructure.

According to the reply received by Cllr Crosby from ESB Networks, the matter: “… has been escalated to Managing Director of ESB Networks – Nicholas Tarrant”.

In response to the public outcry, Williams Doyle is advocating for increased resources and personnel to monitor and enforce forestry regulations effectively.

“More inspectors need to be put on the ground to ensure that private foresters are adhering to the terms of the forestry licenses and keeping the required 20-metre setbacks,” he said.

The power outages, notably severe over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and following Storm Kathleen, have underscored the need for a more robust approach to managing the interaction between natural landscapes and essential infrastructure.

The local community, supported by elected representatives, is calling for immediate and decisive actions to prevent further disruptions and ensure a stable power supply for Rooskey and its surrounding areas.