KILDARE County Council has agreed to put a number of changes to the energy element of its County Development Plan back on public display.
Council members agreed on 28 July a proposal to vary County Development Plan 2011-2017.
The changes involve variations to the plan to include a way to address high tension power lines, sensitive landscapes and health issues.
The changes involve the Council recognising national energy strategy but also the cumulative impact on the landscape character of County Kildare.
Members have agreed that the approach of undergrounding or partial‐undergrounding of high tension transmission lines, as an alternative to suspended overground lines, is the preferred policy of the county.
The Plan recognises that Eirgrid intends not only to install power lines to Dunstown but also the increase of 400 kv lines in the Greater Dublin Area, of which Kildare is a key part.
The spirit of the plan policy is that there would be no impact on important designated conservation sites, for example, “except where there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest.”
The proposed change also wants developers to comply with statutory Government guidelines on health and distance from schools, hospitals, creches etc. which are in line with the Expert Group on Health Effect of Electromagnetic Fields, published in 2007.
The issue has been raised in recent times by parents with children at primary Scoil San Carlo in Leixlip over the presence of nearby telephone masts.
The Board of Management responded they were informed by the Department that they complied with the ICNIRP standards recognised by the Department. However, critics, say these standards are old and are not in line new new knowledge on health effects on children.
The changes also involve recognising the importance of the equine industry.
With all County Development Plans subject to overriding national economic interest and national and international standards, it remains to be seen how the changes, if agreed by the Council following public display, will protect those likely to be most affected.
The Government Policy Statement on the Strategic Importance of Transmission and Other
Energy Infrastructure (July 2012) acknowledges the strategic and economic importance of investment in networks and energy infrastructure. It endorses the major investment underway under Eirgrid’sGrid 25 Programme.