A STRETCH of the Dungannon District countryside is set to be scarred by mega-pylons after planning permission was granted for a new electricity line designed to serve the growing wind-farm industry.
The electricity gridline will extend along a 50km route from Dungannon to Omagh through Killyman, Dungannon, Moygashel, Eglish, Greystone, Killeeshil, Ballyreagh, and Ballygawley.
Planning permission was approved at Dungannon Council’s monthly meeting in spite of 11 objection letters and a signed petition.
Work on the high voltage line is set to start early next year. Large areas of local countryside will be sacrificed to build the power line which will kickstart a £1billion overhaul of Northern Ireland’s grid and dwarf any existing extension including the Moy-Cavan Interconnector plans.
Residents, schools and sporting organisations may find themselves sitting within a so-called ‘danger-zone’ created by the towering pylons.
SDLP Councillor Anthony McGonnell called on NIE to ensure the route did not impact on local commuinities.
“These plans were approved by the local planning office, after consulting with the council. I have been calling for the route to be put underground to minimise the impact on local people, but I am told that the cost is too prohibitive.
“I hope NIE take into account local schools, homes, community facilities and playing fields.
“Unfortunately, if we are to embrace green energy, then these things have to be built.”
NIE, whose parent company Viridian announced record profits last year of £89.3million, has argued that it would be too expensive to put the high voltage cables underground.
In 2005, the Department of Health funded Draper Report found that children who lived within 200 metres of high voltage lines had a 70% higher risk of developing leukaemia than those who lived more than 600 metres away.
According to NIE, a public consultation process was completed after the initial application was submitted to DOE planning on June 30, 2011, and a number of public meetings were held in Kelly’s Inn, Quinn’s Corner and the Cohannon Hinn in April last year. The route will affect approximately 200 landowners.
The plans, which have also been endorsed by the Stormont Executive, aim to link the grid to the power supplied by wind turbines in the West.