EirGrid and ESB Networks have today confirmed that they will establish a voluntary community forum early in the new year, as recommended by Irish Rural Link in its independent evaluation of the Laois Kilkenny Reinforcement Project in October 2019.
The project involved the development of new transmission infrastructure, including substations and overhead lines, from Coolnabacky in Laois to Ballyragget in Kilkenny. Details of the project can be found here.
In recognition of the importance of working closely with communities, EirGrid will launch a project Community Fund in 2021. It is intended that the voluntary community forum will, through its civic, social and political representatives, provide input into the administration of the fund. The forum will also receive regular updates on the construction programme from ESB Networks.
The establishment of a community forum was one of the key recommendations from Irish Rural Link, an independent organisation commissioned by ESB Networks to assess current community understanding of the project.
Irish Rural Link made five recommendations in its report and EirGrid and ESB Networks are committed to implementing them. The report is available to read here.
EirGrid’s community fund recognises the importance of the local communities in the development of the electricity grid. The fund is in proportion to the scale of a project.
The overall fund for the Laois-Kilkenny Reinforcement Project is approximately €500,000. When allocating the fund consideration will be given to the amount of new infrastructure in each county.
Michael Mahon, chief infrastructure officer at EirGrid, said: “Due to Covid-19 restrictions it is not possible to host public meetings or events. However, it remains our intention to work with networks in Laois and Kilkenny to reach out to organisations seeking nominations to the forum in January and we are looking forward to engaging with communities.”