Suggestions that the proposal to appoint Mr. John O’Connor to be Chairman of EirGrid represented a conflict of interest could prove accurate if the views he expressed as Chairman of An Bord Pleanala about landscape had changed.
This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin when she quoted Mr. O’Connor’s statement, as Chairman of An Bord Pleanala, that “I do not believe that the planning system has done enough to protect the unique Irish landscape, which is a cultural, environmental and economic asset of inestiminable value”.
She continued:- “If Mr. O’Connor still holds this view he will surely be an influence in EirGrid calling for undergrounding of cables and ensuring that the proposed plans to impose gigantic pylons on very sensitive landscapes are not implemented.
“Mr. O’Connor, when Chairman of An Bord Pleanala, was an ardent opponent of building one-off houses in the countryside because of alleged damage to landscape. EirGrid proposes to devastate landscape with huge numbers of pylons which will be totally intrusive while also seriously undermining the value of property and creating health fears for communities. It is to be hoped that if Mr. O’Connor is appointed as Chairman of EigGrid that he will remember that preservation of landscape must be a priority for that organisation for the future”, Marian Harkin MEP concluded.